Duke Energy income up, WellCare is down and Verizon's bringing 750 jobs to Orlando

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Three brief from the intersection of business and Florida politics.

DUKE ENERGY’S EARNING INCREASED IN FOURTH QUARTER

Duke Energy’s earnings rose in the fourth quarter of 2012, beating analysts estimates but still lower than the same period a year earlier. The utility today reported net income of $435 million, or 62 cents a share, compared with $288 million, or 65 cents in 2011.

VERIZON TO PUT FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING CENTER IN LAKE MARY

Verizon Communications will establish a finance and accounting center in Lake Mary that could create 750 jobs by 2016, Gov. Scott announced Wednesday. The project is expected to create the first 300 jobs in the Orlando suburb by the end of next year. “Verizon’s choice to locate their Center of Excellence in Lake Mary is great news for Florida families,” Scott said. “With the second largest drop in unemployment rate in the country, this addition of 750 new jobs with Verizon is more proof we have made the right choices over the past two years to keep our economy growing.”

There was an undisclosed economic incentive package included to lure the company to the Orlando area. “We have received a warm welcome from the state and local economic development partners, who aided in our decision process to locate in Metro Orlando,” said Michelle Robinson, vice president for the south area for Verizon. “The region’s talent pipeline, which is full of finance and accounting graduates, was an integral factor in Verizon choosing to invest in Central Florida.”

WELLCARE INCOME DOWN IN 2012  
Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans reported Wednesday that its net income in 2012 and during the year’s fourth quarter dipped from 2011 levels. The HMO, which is a major player in Florida’s Medicaid system, had net income for 2012 of $184.7 million, or $4.22 per diluted share, down from $264.2 million, or $6.10 per diluted share in 2011, according to a news release. On an adjusted basis, the net income in 2012 was $215.6 million, compared with $291.4 million a year earlier.

The company also saw lower earnings levels during the final quarter of 2012, though Chief Executive Officer Alec Cunningham touted WellCare’s prospects for this year. “We began 2013 with the most-diversified portfolio of revenue and earnings streams in our history in a number of attractive markets that have sizeable government program growth prospects,” Cunningham said in the news release. “We intend to continue to capitalize on those opportunities.” Among the factors affecting 2012 earnings were increases in what are known as “medical benefits ratios,” which involve the percentages of premium dollars that are needed to pay for medical care.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.