E.ON, Germany's biggest power supplier, said on Thursday that its 2004 net profit fell short of the year-earlier figure which had been boosted by one-off gains. But underlying profits were up as a result of higher electricity and gas prices. The Düsseldorf based company said in a statement that it had earned a total € 4.339 billion ($5.8 billion) at the bottom line in 2004. That's 6.6 percent less than the year-earlier figure. Nevertheless, operating profit, as measured by earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), was up 11 percent at €7.361 billion due to higher electricity and gas prices. As a result, E.ON planned to pay an increased dividend to shareholders of €2.35 per share, up from €2.0 for 2003. For the current year, the group was forecasting a "slight rise" in earnings compared with 2004 levels. The bottom-line net profit would depend on how much E.ON made from the sale of its Viterra and Ruhrgas Industries subsidiaries, it said. In addition, E.ON said it was considering "targeted asset purchases" in the future, which may include "larger acquisitions."