updated 8/7/2007 10:05:37 AM ET 2007-08-07T14:05:37

Duke Energy Corp., one of the largest electric power companies in the United States, said Tuesday its second-quarter profit fell 17 percent after it spun off its natural gas business at the beginning of the year.

Duke earned $293 million, or 23 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2007, down from $355 million, or 28 cents per share, during the same period in 2006.

Excluding special items and discontinued operations, the company said it earned 24 cents per share in the period.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial forecast a profit of 20 cents per share. Thomson estimates usually exclude special items.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $3.04 billion from $2.9 billion during the same period a year earlier. Analysts expected revenue of $3.05 billion.

Second quarter results include operations from Cinergy Corp., the power company Duke Energy acquired for $9 billion in April 2006.

Results were also offset by a lower contribution from Crescent Resources, the company’s commercial and residential projects, which changed from a wholly owned subsidiary to a 50-50 joint venture in September 2006.

In January, Duke Energy spun off its natural gas unit, now trading as Spectra Energy Corp., to its shareholders. On Monday, Houston-based Spectra said profit fell 38 percent to $196 million, or 31 cents a share, in its second quarter as a separate public company.

For the first six months of the year, Duke Energy reported earnings of $650 million, or 51 cents per share, compared with $713 million, or 64 cents per share, in 2006. Revenue rose to $6.13 billion from $4.52 billion a year earlier.

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