Duke Energy announced a strong first quarter today, thanks to rate increases, unusually cold weather and higher sales.
The Charlotte-based utility earned $445 million, or 34 cents a share, the Charlotte Observer reports. That compared to 27 cents on $344 million in profit for the first quarter of 2009. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 32 cents a share.
The company is one of the nation's largest electricity producers with 4 million customers in five states, including 1.8 million in North Carolina. That includes more than 160,000 customers in Durham, Chapel Hill and the western Triangle.
Electricity sales are viewed as good indicators of how well businesses are performing and the broader economy.
“We are seeing signs of economic stabilization, but we are mindful of the high levels of unemployment that still exist in our service territories,” CEO Jim Rogers said in a statement.
But in an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Rogers cautioned that the first-quarter figures are compared to those of a “disastrous” 2009. He said he hasn’t seen signals the economy is poised for strong growth, including industries that are large users of electricity.
“We continue to believe that the recovery is going to be anemic,” he said.
Duke shares fell 22 cents to $16.71 today. The shares are up nearly 18 percent in the past year.
Raleigh-based Progress Energy is scheduled to report its first quarter results on Wednesday morning. Progress shares fell 41 cents to $40.12 today and are up 14 percent in the past year.