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 currently has a $88.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price objective would indicate a potential upside of 10.54% from the stock’s current price.

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.”

Several other equities research analysts also recently issued reports on the stock. Argus restated a “hold” rating on shares of Duke Energy Corp. in a research report on Tuesday, July 26th. Mizuho restated a “neutral” rating and set a $75.00 price objective on shares of Duke Energy Corp. in a research report on Thursday, June 30th. Citigroup Inc. raised their price objective on shares of Duke Energy Corp. from $72.00 to $82.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 20th. Scotiabank restated a “sector perform” rating and set a $88.00 price objective (up from $78.00) on shares of Duke Energy Corp. in a research report on Wednesday, August 10th. Finally, Howard Weil raised their price objective on shares of Duke Energy Corp. from $78.00 to $88.00 and gave the stock a “sector perform” rating in a research report on Monday, August 8th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have assigned a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Duke Energy Corp. presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $79.91.

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

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

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 16th. Shareholders of record on Friday, August 12th were paid a dividend of $0.855 per share. This represents a $3.42 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 4.30%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, August 10th. This is a boost from Duke Energy Corp.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.83. Duke Energy Corp.’s payout ratio is presently 90.24%.

In other Duke Energy Corp. news, EVP Douglas F. Esamann sold 3,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $84.58, for a total transaction of $253,740.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 50,609 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $4,280,509.22. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Company insiders own 0.08% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Macquarie Group Ltd. boosted its stake in Duke Energy Corp. by 4.9% in the second quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 1,082,230 shares of the company’s stock worth $92,844,000 after buying an additional 51,010 shares during the last quarter. Williams Jones & Associates LLC boosted its stake in Duke Energy Corp. by 2.3% in the second quarter. Williams Jones & Associates LLC now owns 18,421 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,580,000 after buying an additional 421 shares during the last quarter. Kentucky Retirement Systems Insurance Trust Fund bought a new stake in Duke Energy Corp. during the second quarter worth $2,386,000. Kentucky Retirement Systems bought a new stake in Duke Energy Corp. during the second quarter worth $5,026,000. Finally, Northwestern Mutual Investment Management Company LLC boosted its stake in Duke Energy Corp. by 53.9% in the second quarter. Northwestern Mutual Investment Management Company LLC now owns 955,632 shares of the company’s stock worth $81,984,000 after buying an additional 334,778 shares during the last quarter. 56.77% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Duke Energy Corp. Company Profile

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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