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UPDATE 2-Duke Energy 2nd-qtr profit beats Street
August 7, 2007 / 11:33 AM / in 10 years

UPDATE 2-Duke Energy 2nd-qtr profit beats Street

(Recasts, adds comments from CEO, CFO interview, share price)

NEW YORK, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Power company Duke Energy Corp. (DUK.N) on Tuesday posted second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations, helped by warmer weather and increased wholesale volume and pricing.

The company also expects to exceed its 2007 forecast.

Net income at Duke Energy, which merged with peer Cinergy in April of last year, fell to $293 million, or 23 per share, from $355 million, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier, as a result of weaker results at its real estate business.

But excluding one-time items and the impact of the Spectra Energy Corp. (SE.N) spin-off, earnings per share were 24 cents, beating analysts’ average forecast of 20 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Second-quarter revenue rose nearly 5 percent to $3.04 billion, said the company, which serves 4 million customers and has nearly 37,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the Midwest and Carolinas.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company expects to exceed its 2007 earnings per share target of $1.15. Duke plans to provide details on its 2007 forecast later in third quarter, Chief Executive James Rogers told Reuters.

Duke also projected a positive third quarter.

“Third quarter will be just fine, but we’ll see how that develops,” said Chief Financial Officer David Hauser, adding “the plants are running well and that will be a key factor.”

Duke is expected to raise its long-term capital spending estimates at its Sept. 14 analyst meeting, Rogers said. The company previously said it could spend $10 billion to $15 billion over the next nine years to develop new generation.

“Our expectation is that our capital (expenditure) will be revised upward,” said Rogers. Such increases usually yield a boost to earnings, he added.

Shares of the power company rose 35 cents, or nearly 2 percent, to $18.24 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Duke shares have fallen about 6.5 percent as of Monday’s close after spinning off its natural gas business in January. The broader Standard and Poor’s utility index .GSPU has gained 6 percent since Jan 3.

Though still trading at multi-year peaks, the index has dipped in the past two months after hitting an all-time high in May. Utility stocks, often viewed as bond surrogates because of their high dividends, have wobbled due to concerns about rising interest rates. (Reporting by Lisa Lee)

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