Duke Energy 4Q Net Up 23% on Asset Sales

Lifted by stronger-than-expected revenue and asset sales, Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) said Thursday it grew its fourth-quarter profits by 23%, lifting the power company’s stock more than 4%.

Charlotte-based Duke said it earned $427 million, or 32 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $346 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier.

However, excluding one-time items, the company earned 21 cents a share, trailing the Street’s view of 23 cents.

Revenue increased by 11% to $3.45 billion, solidly beating forecasts for $3.16 billion.The company chalked up $248 million of its pre-tax profits to asset sales, hiking its EPS by 12 cents.

Duke, which inked a deal in January to acquire Progress Energy (NYSE:PGN) for $13.7 billion in a bid to form the largest U.S. power company, said customer demand rose by almost 2% in 2010, excluding weather.

Looking ahead, Duke projected 2011 non-GAAP EPS of $1.35 to $1.40.

“In 2011, we will first and foremost continue to deliver on our obligations to our customers, investors and the communities we serve," CEO Jim Rogers said in a statement. "We also will work toward timely approval of our merger and subsequent integration with Progress Energy."

Shares of Duke Energy rose 3.1% to $18.25 ahead of Thursday’s open. The stock was flat on the year as of Wednesday’s close.