Duke Energy is reporting a profit of $703 million in the last three months of 2017. The company says cold weather boosted energy use, expenses were lower and it benefited from changes in the federal tax law.
The profit reversed a loss in the same period a year ago when Duke wrote off costs related to the sale of its international businesses.
The company took a big charge - $597 million - as it reduced the value of certain assets because of the tax law changes and recorded lower after-tax costs related to the acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas. But there was an upside, too - the company's tax rate fell to 18.6 percent during the quarter, from 26.6 percent a year ago, based on expected impacts the the tax law changes. The company has said it plans to return a portion of the tax savings to customers through lower rates in the future.
Excluding the tax law effects, merger costs and other unusual expenses, Duke's earnings per share were 1 dollar, compared to a 33-cent loss a year ago. That beat the consensus prediction of Wall Street analysts of 92 cents.
For the full year, Duke earned just under 3.1 billion dollars. In its announcement, the company said it expects continued 4 to 6 percent annual growth in profits through 2022.