Duke Energy 1Q Profit Slides But Beats on Retail Prices

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) reported a 42% drop in first-quarter profit but saw adjusted earnings surpass Wall Street's expectations.

The company also said Friday that it expects regulators to support its proposed $13.7 billion acquisition of Progress Energy (NYSE:PGN).

The deal, which has faced objections by federal regulators who say it could squash competition, could close as early as July 1, Duke said in a statement.

The company reported quarterly net income of $295 million, or 22 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier $511 million, or 38 cents.

Excluding a $420 million charge related to its Edwardsport coal gasification project and other one-time items, Duke earned 38 cents, ahead of the 36 cents predicted by analysts in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Duke attributed the beat to higher customer rates in the Carolinas and reduced operation and maintenance costs at its regulated utilities, partially offset by mild weather.

“Our first quarter adjusted results highlight the ability of our diverse business operations and cost control measures to mitigate the impacts of the mild weather we experienced," Duke CEO James Rogers said in a statement.

Revenue of $3.63 billion was virtually flat year-over-year and edged narrowly ahead of the Street’s view of $3.6 billion.

The energy giant backed its fiscal 2012 earnings guidance in the range of $1.40 to $1.45 a share, which brackets the $1.42 currently forecasted by analysts.