Klappa cites milestones in customer satisfaction, employee safety, reliability in annual meeting review of 2012 highlights

Also notes stronger earnings, exceptional shareholder returns

May 02, 2013, 12:41 ET from Wisconsin Energy

ROTHSCHILD, Wis., May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At Wisconsin Energy's (NYSE: WEC) annual meeting of stockholders, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Gale Klappa described 2012 as a remarkable year with milestones in customer satisfaction, employee safety, and network reliability.

Klappa cited the following 2012 highlights:

Customer satisfaction

  • For the fourth quarter of 2012, the company achieved the best customer satisfaction ratings since the merger of Wisconsin Electric and Wisconsin Gas in 2000.
  • We Energies was named the most reliable utility in the Midwest for the eighth time in the past 11 years by an independent consulting firm.

Company performance

  • Best overall safety results in company history.  An improvement of nearly 75 percent since 2003 in both recordable incidents and lost-time accidents.
  • Named for the sixth year in a row as one of the nation's best corporate citizens by Corporate Responsibility Magazine.  The publication evaluates approximately 1,000 publicly held companies on the basis of environmental performance, employee relations, philanthropy, finance, and governance practices.

Earnings and financial strength

  • The highest net income in company history.
  • Earnings from continuing operations of $2.35 per share – a 7.8 percent increase over the $2.18 per share recorded in 2011.
  • Through the end of 2012, repurchased nearly $152 million of Wisconsin Energy stock at an average price of $32.63 a share.

Shareholder return

  • Wisconsin Energy's total return to shareholders has significantly outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, NASDAQ, the S&P Electric Index, and the Philadelphia Utility Index over the past 10 years.  Wisconsin Energy's total shareholder return, assuming reinvested dividends, was 63 percent over three years, 76.2 percent over five years, 129.5 percent over seven years, and 285.2 percent over 10 years.

Dividend increase

  • Raised the dividend by 13.3 percent in January 2013, to an annual rate of $1.36 per share.
  • Klappa said the goal is to increase the company's dividend payout to 65 to 70 percent of earnings in 2017 – a level more competitive with other regulated energy companies.  This policy should support a double-digit increase in the dividend in 2014 and 7 to 8 percent growth in the years 2015 through 2017.

Infrastructure improvements

  • Completed the air quality control upgrades for the four older units at the Oak Creek Power Plant site on time and on budget.  At just under $900 million, this was the second largest construction project in company history.
  • Between 2000 and 2013, power plant capacity increased by 50 percent, while systemwide emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and particulate matter decreased by 80 percent.
  • The 50-megawatt biomass cogeneration plant being constructed in Rothschild is nearly 80 percent complete and targeted for completion by the end of 2013.

Next steps

Klappa outlined the company's next important initiative that calls for an investment of $3.2 to $3.5 billion from 2013 through 2017 to modernize the company's distribution networks for electricity and natural gas, meet changing environmental standards, and add clean, renewable energy to its generation fleet.

Stockholder actions

During the meeting, stockholders elected the following directors to terms expiring at the 2014 annual meeting: John F. Bergstrom, Barbara L. Bowles, Patricia W. Chadwick, Curt S. Culver, Thomas J. Fischer, Gale E. Klappa, Henry W. Knueppel, Ulice Payne, Jr., and Mary Ellen Stanek

As recommended by the board of directors, stockholders also voted to:

  • Ratify Deloitte & Touche LLP as independent auditors for 2013.
  • Approve the compensation of the company's named executive officers (say-on-pay).

Earnings per share listed in this news release are on a fully diluted basis.

Wisconsin Energy Corporation (NYSE: WEC), based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation's premier energy companies, serving more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and 1.1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin.  The company's principal utility is We Energies.  The company's other major subsidiary, We Power, designs, builds and owns electric generating plants.

Wisconsin Energy (wisconsinenergy.com), a component of the S&P 500, has more than $14 billion of assets, approximately 4,500 employees and more than 41,000 stockholders of record.

Forward-looking statements 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 dividend payouts, dividend increases, investments in infrastructure, renewable generation and other projects to meet environmental standards, capital expenditures 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" 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; business, competitive and regulatory conditions in the deregulating and consolidating energy industry, in general, and, in particular, in the company's service territories; timing, resolution and impact of pending and future rate cases and other regulatory decisions; availability of the company's generating facilities; varying weather conditions; catastrophic weather-related or terrorism-related damage; cyber-security threats; unanticipated changes in purchased power costs; unanticipated changes in coal or natural gas prices and supply and transportation availability; the ability to recover fuel and purchased power costs; nonperformance by purchased power or natural gas suppliers under existing contracts; environmental incidents; key personnel changes; inflation rates; customer growth and declines; customer business conditions, including demand for their products and services; energy conservation efforts; construction risks; adverse interpretation or enforcement of permit conditions by permitting agencies; restrictions imposed by financing arrangements and regulatory requirements on the ability of the company's subsidiaries to transfer funds to it in the form of cash dividends, loans or advances; current and future litigation, regulatory investigations, proceedings or inquiries, including Federal Energy Regulatory Commission matters and Internal Revenue Service audits and other tax matters; the impact of recent and future federal, state and local legislative and regulatory changes; equity and bond market fluctuations and events in the global credit markets that may affect the availability and cost of capital; the investment performance of the company's pension and other post-retirement benefit trusts; the financial performance of the American Transmission Company; the effect of accounting pronouncements issued periodically by standard setting bodies; foreign governmental, economic, political and currency risks; 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 headings "Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information" and "Risk Factors" contained in the company's Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2012 and in subsequent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company expressly disclaims any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

SOURCE Wisconsin Energy