Duke Earnings and Guidance to Reverse or Stop Panic Selling Trend

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Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) reported its quarterly results Thursday morning, posting a handy increase in its earnings. The summer months were a contributing factor as seasonal utility expenses tend to increase with temperatures. Duke beat the estimate in earnings per share at $1.11 but fell short in terms of revenue at $5.95 billion. However, the revenues are still up from $5.88 billion in the same quarter from the previous year. Thomson Reuters had estimated earnings per share of $0.98 and revenue of $6.12 billion.

Perhaps the larger part of this earnings report is Duke raising its 2014 earnings guidance. It increased its 2014 adjusted earnings guidance range from $4.45 to $4.60 per share, up by a nickel on each side to $4.50 to $4.65 per share. Thomson Reuters already had its consensus estimate for 2014 at $4.57 in earnings per share, so the new range’s mid-point is right in line with the consensus estimate.

Duke makes the vast majority of its revenue from electric utilities in regulated markets, at 87% compared to 11% in unregulated markets. Duke’s regulated utility operations bolstered its earnings with a 7.2 million customer base spanning six states in the Southeast and Midwest.

What investors will be paying attention to here is that Duke’s report looks good enough on the surface to at least slow (if not reverse) that sharp selling pressure we had seen in the days ahead of the earnings report. As we had noted on Wednesday, Duke shares had fallen by more than 6% just in the past week or so ahead of the report. That is not a garden variety sell-off for the nation’s largest utility.

Duke shares were up by about 1.5% at $70.91 about 30 minutes after the open of the stock market on Thursday. The 52-week range is $64.16 to $75.13, and its consensus price target is $76.47.

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