NRG Energy Inc (NRG), Duke Energy Corp (DUK): How It Aims to Keep Growing

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On Friday, Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK) will release its latest quarterly results. The key to making smart investment decisions on stocks reporting earnings is to anticipate how they'll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever inevitable surprises arise. That way, you'll be less likely to make an uninformed knee-jerk reaction to news that turns out to be exactly the wrong move.

Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK)'s merger with Progress Energy helped vault the utility into the uppermost echelon of industry players. But after such a big transaction, when will Duke see earnings start moving back in the right direction? Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK) over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report.

Stats on Duke Energy

Analyst EPS Estimate $1.04
Change From Year-Ago EPS (8.8%)
Revenue Estimate $5.74 billion
Change From Year-Ago Revenue 58%
Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters 4

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Can Duke Energy keep cleaning up this quarter? Analysts have reined in their views on Duke's earnings in recent months, having cut their earnings-per-share estimates on the utility by a nickel and reducing their full-year 2013 views by $0.03 per share. But the stock hasn't gotten hurt by those moves, as shares have risen 12% since late January.

Duke has benefited from the same trends that have helped just about every player in the business. As natural gas prices have fallen, Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK) has shifted away from coal, helping it clean up its operations from an emissions standpoint as well as cutting costs. Moreover, its merger with Progress Energy made it the largest utility in the country by most measures, with the most generating capacity and the most customers, and boosted Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK)'s already high exposure to the regulated utility business. That gives Duke limited but solid growth prospects, on which it plans to spend a fair-sized fraction of the roughly $6 billion in capital expenditures budgeted for the year.

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