Duke Energy's latest earnings report shows profits declined 27 percent from the same period a year ago. The Charlotte-based company's net income was $932 million through the end of September, which missed analyst expectations.
Weak results internationally and legal settlements in the U.S. hurt Duke Energy's bottom line. The settlements in the quarter were related to a coal plant in Indiana and cleaning up coal ash in North Carolina.
Besides that, CEO Lynn Good says the company's U.S. business unit delivered solid results, in part because of warmer weather. Duke is the largest utility in the country, serving more than 7 million customers in the Carolinas, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.
On a call with investors, Good said the company's acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas will help.
"From a strategic perspective, we see this acquisition as the foundation for establishing a broader gas infrastructure platform within Duke, building up on our recent gas pipeline investments," she said.
Natural gas is both cheaper and cleaner than coal, and Duke Energy is shifting toward it in a big way. Acquiring Piedmont Natural Gas will give Duke more customers and more control of a proposed natural gas pipeline through eastern North Carolina.
On the international front, the company has been struggling in Latin America, in part because of a strong U.S. dollar and decreased demand in Brazil.