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Duke Energy's Profit Hurt as Energy Demand Ebbs

Power company Duke Energy said Tuesday that its second-quarter earnings fell as demand for power from industrial customers continues to slide because of the recession.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke said Tuesday that it made $276 million, or 21 cents per share, for the quarter ended June 30 compared with profit of $351 million, or 28 cents a share, in the year ago quarter.

Revenue fell to $2.9 billion from $3.2 billion.

Discounting one-time charges, Duke said it made 26 cents a share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected Duke to report profit of 25 cents a share on revenue of $3.17 billion.

Duke said industrial sales in the Carolinas were off 18.5 percent in the quarter. In the Midwest, industrial sales fell 20.9 percent.

Like other utilities, Duke has been working to control costs during the recession. Operating expenses were down $181 million during the quarter compared with a year ago.

"Industrial sales are showing signs of stabilization, but we do not see significant improvement in the near term," Jim Rogers, Duke's chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. "We will continue to focus on the matters we can control, including our operational performance, cost management and maintaining the strength of our liquidity and balance sheet."

Industrial demand has been particularly weak nationwide with sales falling 12 percent in the first quarter of this year from a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Total consumption nationwide is expected to fall 2 percent this year and rise 0.8 percent next year.

Year to date, Duke has made $620 million, or 48 cents per share, compared with profit of $816 million, or 63 cents, per share in the first half of 2008.

Revenue has fallen to $6.2 billion this year compared with $6.6 billion for the first half of 2008.

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