Duke Energy profit beats as summer drives up power demand

Reuters

(Adds details, CEO comment, shares)

By Swetha Gopinath

Aug 7 (Reuters) - Duke Energy Corp reported a better-than-expected profit for the third straight quarter as higher temperatures forced customers to use more air conditioning this summer, raising electricity consumption.

Shares of the company, which raised its full-year adjusted profit forecast, rose 1.3 percent before the bell.

Duke also benefited from higher power prices after North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida approved its request to raise rates last year.

The company sells power to 7.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

Duke gets nearly 87 percent of its revenue from electric utilities, which charge rates set by regulators.

The company's operating revenue from regulated electric utilities rose 7 percent in the second quarter ended June 30.

Duke said earlier this year that it planned to sell its Midwest commercial generation business to lower its exposure to volatile prices for power sold on wholesale.

Analysts say the company could raise about $2 billion from the sale of 11 plants in Ohio and one each in Illinois and Pennsylvania.

"We are continuing to see growth in sales in an economy that is rebounding a little bit and impacting us in a positive way, in terms of new customers and industrial growth," Chief Executive Lynn Good told Reuters on Thursday.

Duke raised its adjusted profit forecast for the year ending December to $4.50-$4.65 per share from $4.45-$4.60, citing strong results in the first half of the year.

Net income attributable to Duke rose about 80 percent to $609 million, or 86 cents per share, in the second quarter.

The year-earlier quarter included a charge to write off investments in a failed Florida nuclear project.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.11 per share.

Analysts on average had expected 98 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Duke's operating revenue inched up 1 percent to $5.95 billion.

The company's shares closed at $69.84 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

(Editing by Savio D'Souza and Kirti Pandey)

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