Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Being a premier utility service provider, Duke Energy invests heavily in infrastructure and expansion projects. The company has undertaken several projects and plans to invest about $25 billion to $30 billion in growth projects over the 2016-2020 time frame. Further, we appreciate Duke Energy’s efforts to expand its renewable asset base in light of increasingly stringent environmental regulations. Going ahead, stringent environmental regulations, pending regulatory cases, volatile commodity prices, severe weather patterns and foreign exchange risks may hinder Duke Energy’s performance. That said, the company’s stable regulated operations, the Piedmont Natural Gas acquisition, a systematic capital investment program, renewable asset expansion and organized transition toward a more focused business mix will likely provide tailwinds.”

A number of other equities analysts have also recently weighed in on DUK. Mizuho reaffirmed a “neutral” rating and issued a $75.00 price target on shares of Duke Energy Corp. in a report on Thursday, June 30th. Citigroup Inc. upped their price target on Duke Energy Corp. from $72.00 to $82.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 20th. Argus reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Duke Energy Corp. in a report on Tuesday, July 26th. Howard Weil increased their target price on Duke Energy Corp. from $78.00 to $88.00 and gave the company a “sector perform” rating in a report on Monday, August 8th. Finally, Scotiabank reissued a “sector perform” rating and set a $88.00 target price (up previously from $78.00) on shares of Duke Energy Corp. in a report on Wednesday, August 10th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have assigned a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $80.23.

Analyst Recommendations for Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK)

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Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK) opened at 76.57 on Tuesday. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $80.08 and its 200-day moving average price is $81.16. Duke Energy Corp. has a 12-month low of $65.50 and a 12-month high of $87.75. The stock has a market cap of $52.75 billion, a PE ratio of 20.24 and a beta of 0.13.

Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, August 4th. The company reported $1.07 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.01 by $0.06. The company earned $5.10 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.71 billion. Duke Energy Corp. had a return on equity of 7.85% and a net margin of 11.39%. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $0.95 EPS. On average, equities analysts expect that Duke Energy Corp. will post $4.59 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 16th. Investors of record on Friday, August 12th were given a $0.855 dividend. This represents a $3.42 annualized dividend and a yield of 4.47%. This is a positive change from Duke Energy Corp.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.83. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 10th. Duke Energy Corp.’s dividend payout ratio is presently 90.24%.

In related news, EVP Douglas F. Esamann sold 3,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $84.58, for a total value of $253,740.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 50,609 shares in the company, valued at $4,280,509.22. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. 0.08% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of DUK. Jolley Asset Management LLC raised its position in shares of Duke Energy Corp. by 9.1% in the second quarter. Jolley Asset Management LLC now owns 1,186 shares of the company’s stock valued at $102,000 after buying an additional 99 shares during the last quarter. Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc. raised its position in Duke Energy Corp. by 8.7% in the second quarter. Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc. now owns 1,250 shares of the company’s stock valued at $107,000 after buying an additional 100 shares in the last quarter. Carnick & Kubik LLC purchased a new position in Duke Energy Corp. during the first quarter valued at approximately $113,000. Sunbelt Securities Inc. raised its position in Duke Energy Corp. by 14.3% in the second quarter. Sunbelt Securities Inc. now owns 1,523 shares of the company’s stock valued at $131,000 after buying an additional 190 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Mercer Capital Advisers Inc. raised its position in Duke Energy Corp. by 394.2% in the second quarter. Mercer Capital Advisers Inc. now owns 1,705 shares of the company’s stock valued at $146,000 after buying an additional 1,360 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 56.56% of the company’s stock.

About Duke Energy Corp.

Duke Energy Corporation (Duke Energy) is an energy company. The Company’s segments include Regulated Utilities, International Energy and Commercial Portfolio. Duke Energy’s subsidiaries include its subsidiary registrants: Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (Duke Energy Carolinas); Progress Energy, Inc (Progress Energy); Duke Energy Progress, LLC (Duke Energy Progress); Duke Energy Florida, LLC (Duke Energy Florida); Duke Energy Ohio, Inc (Duke Energy Ohio), and Duke Energy Indiana, Inc (Duke Energy Indiana).

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