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Duke Energy Posts Gains

The fourth quarter beats estimates and the 2006 target rises.
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Duke Energy (DUK) posted a solid gain in fourth-quarter profit and put its employee incentive earnings target for 2006 above the Wall Street consensus estimate.

The Charlotte, N.C., energy giant made $606 million, or 63 cents a share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from $358 million, or 36 cents a share, a year ago. On a continuing operations basis, latest-quarter earnings rose to 43 cents a share from 30 cents a year ago, easing past the 37-cent Thomson First Call analyst consensus estimate.

"In 2005, Duke Energy took a number of significant strategic steps to shape our future, but at the same time stayed focused on the tasks at hand to deliver outstanding results for the year," said CEO Paul Anderson. "I'm very proud that our employees were able to surpass their earnings targets at the same time they were creating the foundation for the organization that will become the 'new' Duke Energy.

"Our major businesses contributed to the improved results in 2005. I expect the company to continue on a positive trajectory with an equally strong performance in 2006," Anderson said.

Anderson noted that Duke Energy's 2006 employee incentive earnings target has been set at $1.90 per ongoing diluted share -- 10% higher than the $1.73 per ongoing diluted share achieved in 2005. The minimum employee incentive threshold for 2006 has been set at $1.75 per ongoing diluted share. Analysts are looking for $1.78.