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Prudential Downgrades Duke Energy to 'Hold'

Prudential downgraded Duke Energy (DUK) to hold from buy.

Analyst Carol Coale says she expects the energy trading market to remain weak throughout the rest of 2002. She believes reduced energy trading activity, narrow gas processing margins and deteriorating economic conditions in Brazil may take a toll on the company's earnings per share.

She says the company is quiet on these issues but she says it's difficult to believe that Duke is immune to macroeconomic factors negatively impacting the earnings of its peers. She cut the $2.66 2002 EPS estimate to $2.37, and cut the $3.00 2003 estimate to $2.68. Coale also cut the $42 target to $31 on a lower EPS outlook and overall valuation deterioration; she sees the stock under pressure in the near term.

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