Rainy, cool weather chills Duke Energy's profit


By Ernest Scheyder

Nov 6 (Reuters) - Duke Energy Corp, the largest U.S.power company, posted a lower-than-expected quarterly profit onWednesday, primarily due to wet, cool weather in North and SouthCarolina that reduced demand for air conditioning.

Third-quarter net income was $1 billion, or $1.42 per share,compared with $594 million, or 85 cents per share, a yearearlier.

The company bought rival Progress Energy last July for $18billion. Excluding a charge related to that deal and otherone-time items, Duke earned $1.46 per share for the thirdquarter. On that basis, analysts' average forecast was $1.51,according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"The third quarter is the biggest quarter for a utility,"Lynn Good, Duke's chief executive, said in an interview. "It wasjust unseasonably cool in the Carolinas, with a lot of rain."

Utilities depend on customers cranking up air conditionersand other power-hungry devices during the summer. The coolweather dented Duke's earnings by 9 cents per share, Good said.

Operating revenue fell slightly to $6.71 billion. Analystsexpected $7.32 billion.

Duke raised the bottom end of its 2013 earnings forecast,citing recent approvals of requests to raise utility rates. Thecompany now expects an adjusted profit per share of $4.25 to$4.45, versus a previous range of $4.20 to $4.45. Analystsexpect $4.30 per share.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke has 57,000 megawatts ofgenerating capacity and 7.1 million electricity customers inNorth Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky andOhio.

The company is the second-largest U.S. operator of nuclearpower plants. Good said on Wednesday that the company's nuclearplants "are some of the most important assets that we own."

Shares of Duke closed Wednesday at $72.45, up nearly 14percent this year.

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