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A Hydro-Québec dam is seen on the Manicouagan River. Electricity production profit rose by $6 million in the first quarter, the company says. ((Hydro-Québec))

Hedging, lower interest charges and the weaker Canadian dollar helped Hydro-Québec more than offset an $84-million drop in first-quarter exports, the government-owned electricity company said Friday.

Hydro-Québec said profit from continuing operations for the three months ended March 31 was $1.41 billion, compared with $1.33 billion in the comparable 2008 quarter.

But final profit, including discontinued items, fell because of a $117-million gain in 2008 from a price adjustment following the sale of the company's interest in Chile's Transelec.

Including that item, 2008 profit was $1.45 billion.

Revenue was $3.87 billion, compared with $3.77 billion for the same quarter a year earlier.

"The first quarter results are very satisfactory given the current economic context," said Lise Croteau, vice-president of accounting and control.

The company's production arm reported a $6 million rise in profit to $868 million, transmission reported a $9 million increase to $128 million and distribution jumped by $64 million to $417 million.

The company invested $689 million in the quarter, compared with $641 million in 2008.