MILWAUKEE, Dec. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The board of directors of WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC) today announced that it is planning to raise the quarterly dividend to 49.50 cents a share on the company's common stock in the first quarter of 2016. This would represent an increase of 3.75 cents a share over the current quarterly rate.
The directors expect to declare the new dividend at their regularly scheduled meeting in January. The dividend – which would be equivalent to an annual rate of $1.98 a share – is expected to be payable March 1, 2016, to stockholders of record on Feb. 12, 2016.
"We will continue to target a dividend payout ratio of 65 to 70 percent of earnings, a policy in line with our peers across the utility industry," said Gale Klappa, chairman and chief executive. "The board's plan is consistent with that objective."
The company also reaffirmed that it projects adjusted, stand-alone earnings for Wisconsin Energy to be $2.72 a share for calendar year 2015. In 2016, earnings for the combined company are projected to grow by 6 to 8 percent – with earnings in a range of $2.88 to $2.94 a share.
WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC), based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation's premier energy companies, serving 4.4 million customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.
The company's principal utilities are We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, Michigan Gas Utilities, and Minnesota Energy Resources. The company's other major subsidiary, We Power, designs, builds and owns electric generating plants.
WEC Energy Group (wecenergygroup.com), a component of the S&P 500, has approximately $29 billion of assets, 9,000 employees and 60,000 stockholders of record.
Non-GAAP earnings measures
We have provided projected adjusted earnings for 2015 (non-GAAP earnings guidance) in this press release. The projected adjusted, stand-alone earnings of Wisconsin Energy for 2015 exclude the results of operations of Integrys Energy Group and its subsidiaries and costs related to the acquisition of Integrys, as well as the additional Wisconsin Energy shares of common stock that were issued as part of the acquisition. Costs related to the acquisition of Integrys are not indicative of the company's operating performance.
Institutional investors have informed management on several occasions that, for the remainder of 2015, they are interested in, and focused on, the performance of legacy Wisconsin Energy and subsidiaries, excluding the impact of the Integrys acquisition. In addition, the earnings guidance and performance expectations previously provided by the company were based upon legacy Wisconsin Energy's operations. Therefore, we believe that the projected adjusted, stand-alone earnings are relevant and useful to investors. Management also uses such measures internally to evaluate the company's performance for 2015.
Certain statements contained in this press release are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These statements are based upon management's current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in the statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these statements. Forward-looking statements include, among other things, statements concerning management's expectations and projections regarding earnings, dividend payments and other matters. In some cases, forward-looking statements may be identified by reference to a future period or periods or by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "anticipates," "believes," "estimates," "expects," "forecasts," "guidance," "intends," "may," "objectives," "plans" "possible," "potential," "projects," "should," "targets," "will" or similar terms or variations of these terms.
Actual results may differ materially from those set forth in forward-looking statements. In addition to the assumptions and other factors referred to specifically in connection with these statements, factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in any forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: general economic conditions, including business and competitive conditions in the company's service territories; timing, resolution and impact of rate cases and other regulatory decisions; the company's ability to successfully integrate the operations of the Integrys companies with its own operations; availability of the company's generating facilities and/or distribution systems; unanticipated changes in fuel and purchased power costs; key personnel changes; varying weather conditions; continued industry consolidation; energy conservation efforts; cyber-security threats; the value of goodwill and its possible impairment; construction risks; equity and bond market fluctuations; the impact of any legislative and regulatory changes; current and future litigation and regulatory investigations; changes in accounting standards; the financial performance of the American Transmission Company; and other factors described under the heading "Factors Affecting Results, Liquidity and Capital Resources" in Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and under the heading "Risk Factors," as well as those factors described in the forward-looking statement cautionary language, contained in both WEC Energy Group's and Integrys Holding's Form 10-Ks for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014 and in subsequent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. WEC Energy Group expressly disclaims any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking information.
SOURCE WEC Energy Group