NEW YORK — A frigid winter and sales of assets boosted Duke Energy's net income 23 percent in the fourth quarter.
The company, which services areas of Northern Kentucky, earned $427 million, or 32 cents per share, compared with $346 million, or 26 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, the electric and gas utility earned 21 cents per share. Revenue rose to $3.45 billion from $3.11 billion.
For the full year, Duke's earnings rose 20 percent to $1 per share from 83 cents per share in 2009.
Last year's steamy summer boosted demand for electricity to run air conditioners. Then a cold and snowy winter across much of Duke's service territory led to a demand in gas and electricity for heating.
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"It was my perfect year," said Duke CEO Jim Rogers in an interview.
2011 should also be a big year for Rogers and Duke. Last month it announced plans to buy Progress Energy for $13.7 billion. If approved, Duke will become the largest utility in the United States. Based in Charlotte, N.C., Duke now serves 4 million customers in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio.
Duke said Thursday that industrial demand grew 7 percent in 2010. Overall demand grew only 2 percent because commercial and residential usage remained weak, according to Lynn Good, Duke's chief financial officer.
Good said that demand from factories typically picks up first after recessions, followed later by demand from homes and stores.