May 10 (Reuters) - U.S. utility Duke Energy Corp's first-quarter profit beat analysts' estimates on Thursday, helped by higher demand in its electric utilities business.
Operating revenue from the unit, which accounts for the bulk of Duke's overall business, rose 7.6 percent to $5.32 billion.
Duke continued to benefit from the new U.S. tax code passed in December, which reduces the corporate income tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. The company's income tax expense in the quarter nearly halved to $181 million from a year earlier.
Duke, valued at $53 billion, has been expanding its business through acquisitions and investment in renewable energy and power generation stations for electric vehicles.
Net income attributable to the company fell to $620 million, or 88 cents per share in the quarter ended March 31, from $716 million, or $1.02 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.28 per share, beating analysts' estimate of $1.14 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Total operating revenue rose 7.1 percent to $6.14 billion. (Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)