In the lead up to Duke Energy's (NYSE:DUK) announcement of its third quarter earnings on Thursday, November 8, 2012, analysts' expectations have improved over the past month from $1.41 per share to the current projection of earnings of $1.45 per share.

Investors should care about a company's quarterly earnings because it shows the state of the business over the past 90 days and provides guidance for the following 90 days. SEE: Everything Investors Need To Know About Earnings

What to Expect: The figure has risen from $1.43 over the past three months. Analysts are expecting earnings of $4.27 per share for the fiscal year.

Duke Energy is expected to report revenue of $6.79 billion for the quarter, beating last year's figure of $3.96 billion by 71.3%. For the fiscal year, expected revenue is $20.06 billion.

Company Performance: After dropping for the last two quarters, revenue rose year-over-year in the second quarter. It rose 1.2% in the second quarter. Prior to that, revenue fell 0.9% in the first quarter and 2.2% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year.

DUK's P/E ratio is 19.3. A simple P/E ratio can reveal the stock's real market value and show how the valuation compares to its industry group or a benchmark like the S&P 500 Index. To determine the P/E ratio, an investor divides the market price of the stock by the earnings-per-share (EPS) of the stock. SEE: How To Find P/E And PEG Ratios

The stock price has fallen 4.6% since August 7, 2012, from $68.05 to $64.94. Duke Energy's best recent streak was when its price gained $1.49 per share between September 18, 2012 and September 24, 2012.

The Competition: Duke Energy offers electric power and gas distribution operations and other energy services in North and South America. Most analysts (14 of 17) give Duke Energy a hold rating. They have become increasingly pessimistic about the stock, as the number of buy ratings has dropped slightly over the last three months.

The company's closest competitor in the electric utilities industry is Southern (SO). Analysts are more optimistic about Duke Energy than about Southern. Only one out of 16 analysts rate the latter a buy compared to three of 17 for the former.

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Tickers in this Article: DUK

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