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Duke Energy Profit Up 30%, Beats Estimates

Power company Duke Energy Friday posted a 30 percent rise in first-quarter profit, beating Wall Street forecasts on gains in its wholesale power business.

Duke Chief Executive James Rogers said on CNBC that the company was wrestling with higher natural resources costs but maintaining efficiency.

"We're seeing significant increases in the cost of coal and natural gas, and that translates into higher prices for our consumers," he said. "The good news for us is that 98 percent of our electricity comes from coal and nuclear, and we're not subject to the same volatility and price shock that comes from natural gas."

Net income rose to $465 million, or 37 cents per share, from $357 million, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, discontinued operations and the market value of its trading portfolio, earnings per share rose to 35 cents from 30 cents a year ago.

On that basis, the earnings beat analysts' consensus forecast for earnings of 31 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenues rose to $3.34 billion from $3.04 billion.

Duke's commercial power business, which owns about 8,100 megawatts of electricity generation, saw earnings before interest and taxes surge to $146 million from $13 million a year earlier.

That gain was helped by a $47 million pre-tax increase in the value of its trading positions, which offset higher expenses from plant maintenance.

Duke's electricity and gas utility operations posted a jump in earnings before interest and taxes to $637 million from $574 million last year.

Its international segment, which includes its power generation in Latin America and investment in petrochemical company National Methanol, posted earnings before interest and taxes of $114 million versus $94 million a year earlier.

Shares of Duke were up 1.2 percent, or 22 cent, to $18.89 per share on the New York Stock Exchange, outpacing the 0.9 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's utility index.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.