Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued on Thursday. The firm presently has a $88.00 price objective on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s target price suggests a potential upside of 10.54% from the company’s previous close.

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 analysts have also recently weighed in on the company. Scotiabank reaffirmed a “sector perform” rating and issued a $88.00 price target (up previously from $78.00) on shares of Duke Energy Corp. in a research report on Wednesday, August 10th. Citigroup Inc. boosted their price target on Duke Energy Corp. from $72.00 to $82.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 20th. Mizuho reaffirmed a “neutral” rating and issued a $75.00 price target on shares of Duke Energy Corp. in a research report on Thursday, June 30th. SunTrust Banks Inc. reduced their price target on Duke Energy Corp. from $82.00 to $80.00 and set a “neutral” rating for the company in a research report on Monday, September 12th. Finally, Argus reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Duke Energy Corp. in a research report on Wednesday, September 14th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have issued a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $79.91.

Shares of Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK) opened at 79.61 on Thursday. Duke Energy Corp. has a one year low of $65.50 and a one year high of $87.31. The company has a 50 day moving average price of $82.29 and a 200 day moving average price of $80.84. The company has a market cap of $54.85 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.04 and a beta of 0.06.

Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK) last announced 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. Duke Energy Corp. had a return on equity of 7.85% and a net margin of 11.39%. The company earned $5.10 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.71 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.95 earnings per share. Equities research analysts expect that Duke Energy Corp. will post $4.59 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 16th. Stockholders of record on Friday, August 12th were paid a $0.855 dividend. This is a positive change from Duke Energy Corp.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.83. This represents a $3.42 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 4.30%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, August 10th. Duke Energy Corp.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 90.24%.

In other news, EVP Douglas F. Esamann sold 3,000 shares of the company’s 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 sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 50,609 shares in the company, valued at approximately $4,280,509.22. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. 0.08% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Kentucky Retirement Systems Insurance Trust Fund acquired a new position in shares of Duke Energy Corp. during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $1,841,000. Nomura Asset Management Co. Ltd. increased its position in shares of Duke Energy Corp. by 2.3% in the fourth quarter. Nomura Asset Management Co. Ltd. now owns 150,026 shares of the company’s stock valued at $10,710,000 after buying an additional 3,421 shares during the last quarter. Laurel Wealth Advisors Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Duke Energy Corp. during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $1,279,000. Norges Bank acquired a new position in shares of Duke Energy Corp. during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $333,674,000. Finally, Park National Corp OH increased its position in shares of Duke Energy Corp. by 2.5% in the first quarter. Park National Corp OH now owns 123,960 shares of the company’s stock valued at $10,001,000 after buying an additional 2,993 shares during the last quarter. 56.77% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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