WRAPUP 1-U.S. utility earnings point to recovering economy

* Duke, Xcel, CenterPoint, El Paso Electric Q3 beats

* Duke, Portland General raise FY earnings outlook

* CenterPoint, Xcel back FY profit view

* Industrial demand picks up in Southeast

By Krishna N Das and Adveith Nair

BANGALORE, Oct 28 (BestGrowthStock) – In a strong indication that
the U.S. economy is gradually finding its feet, and boosted by
a hotter-than-normal summer, power utilities Duke Energy
(DUK.N: ) and Xcel Energy (XEL.N: ) posted their best profits in at
least 20 quarters, and were upbeat about the rest of the year.

Near-record temperatures across much of the United States
fuelled higher electricity usage this summer than last,
according to the nation’s electricity grid operators — also a
potential wake-up call to utilities that delayed plans to add
new nuclear and coal-fired plants during the recession.

The power utility sector sub-index (.GSPELEC: ) is up around
15 percent since late-May, just outpacing the broader Dow Jones
industrial average (.DJI: ).

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke posted a six-fold rise
in third-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.), hiked its full-year profit view for a
second time, and gave the economy a thumbs-up. [ID:nN28277258]

“While the weather was a predominant factor for the
quarter, we also saw signs of continued improvement in the
economy as evidenced by our increased industrial sales
volumes,” Duke CEO James Rogers said in a statement.

The latest third quarter was the hottest in the Carolinas
since at least 1961, Duke said, adding that temperatures were
also significantly above normal in the Midwest.

Duke distributes electricity to more than 3.9 million
customers in the Carolinas, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

“Favorable weather, relative both to normal and year-ago
figures, improved industrial sales, rate relief and flat
operating costs more than offset higher capital costs and share
dilution,” wrote UBS analysts, who rate Duke stock as
“neutral”.

“We continue to believe that its challenge is delivering
any material earnings per share growth on a weather-normalized
basis.”

Xcel Energy Inc (XEL.N: ), valued at $11 billion, reported
adjusted earnings of 62 cents a share, easily beating market
estimates. It said profit for the full year would come at the
upper half of its forecast. [ID:nASA00WXI]

“Temperatures for the third quarter were warmer than
normal, while temperatures in the third quarter of 2009 were
cooler than normal,” Xcel said in a statement.

PPL Corp (PPL.N: ) reported estimate-topping profits and
narrowed its full-year earnings outlook. [ID:nASA00WYQ] while
Portland General Electric Co (POR.N: ) and El Paso Electric Co
(EE.N: ) both posted big gains — not only beating estimates but
also raising their full-year profit view. [ID:nASA00WVE]
[ID:nWNAB7660]

CenterPoint Energy’s (CNP.N: ) third-quarter earnings beat
estimates, too, and the Houston-based company backed its 2010
outlook. [ID:nASA00WYH], while quarterly profit at CMS Energy
(CMS.N: ) nearly doubled and the utility backed its adjusted
earnings outlook for the year. [ID:nASA00X03]

Southern Co (SO.N: ), FirstEnergy (FE.N: ), Wisconsin Energy
(WEC.N: ), Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG.N: ), SCANA Corp
(SCG.N: ) and Allegheny Energy (AYE.N: ) had earlier posted healthy
quarterly results. [ID:nSGE69Q0GH] [ID:nSGE69O0J8]
(Reporting by Krishna N Das and Adveith Nair in Bangalore,
Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

WRAPUP 1-U.S. utility earnings point to recovering economy