Energy marketing and trading powerhouse Enron Corp. said on Thursday its second-quarter income rose almost 40 percent, beating Wall Street estimates on robust growth in its core wholesale energy business. 

The Houston-based company, the No. 1 U.S. natural gas and electricity marketer, reported net income excluding non-recurring items of $404 million, or 45 cents a share, compared with $289 million, or 34 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. 

Analysts had expected earnings per share in the range of 40 to 44 cents, with an average of 42 cents, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. 

Enron also said it was confident it would reach its target of $1.80 of recurring earnings per diluted share for the full year 2001, while saying it expected to earn a slightly better-than-expected $2.15 per diluted share in 2002. 

Revenues rose to $50.06 billion versus $16.88 billion in the year-ago quarter. 

``Our wholesale and retail energy businesses continue to dramatically expand business activity and increase profitability,'' Enron President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling said in a statement. 

Energy volumes increased 58 percent to 74 trillion British thermal unit equivalents per day, the company said. Enron also reported an 89 percent year-over-year increase in new retail energy services contracts, moving to $7.2 billion. 

Skilling acknowledged that Enron's budding broadband business met with difficulty in the quarter, but said the company's agility and small asset position would enable it to quickly react to weakness in the broader telecommunications market. 

``We are significantly reducing our broadband cost structure to match the reduced revenue opportunities currently available,'' he said. 

That market's weakness, as well as the California power crisis and a struggling power project in India combined to pressure the energy giant's stock down 15.7 percent in the quarter. It underperformed the broader Standard & Poor's utility index, which was down 6.32 percent in the same period. 

Since the close of the quarter, the stock has been hovering near $49, roughly half an all-time high of $90.25 reached last August. It had traded at more than $81 in as recently as mid-February.