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Duke Energy Raises Earnings Growth Forecast

Power company Duke Energy on Tuesday raised its earnings target for the next five years based on returns from higher spending and growing demand.

The Charlotte, North Carolina company said it now expected earnings per share to increase by 5 percent to 7 percent through 2012, compared with a previous estimate of 4 percent to 6 percent.

Duke forecast total capital expenditures of $22.55 billion for 2008 through 2012, with about $5 billion of that designated for construction of new power generation capacity.

The company's shares fell 35 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $18.36 on the New York Stock Exchange, despite a 0.6 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's Utilities Index.

Duke said it expected spending of $4.98 billion in 2008, $4.7 billion 2009 and $4.93 billion in 2010. Capital expenditures will then dip to $4.6 billion in 2011 and $3.35 billion in 2012.

Previously, Duke had said spending would be about $3.5 billion annually in 2008 and 2009.

The company also said it had invited bids for power providers to sell it 1,800 megawatts of electricity in Ohio, where it has 680,000 customers. Duke said it needed 1,500 megawatts immediately and an additional 900 megawatts by 2013.