Wisconsin Energy Revises Dividend Policy

Dec 02, 2010, 17:00 ET from Wisconsin Energy Corporation

MILWAUKEE, Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- At their regularly scheduled meeting today, the directors of Wisconsin Energy Corporation (NYSE: WEC) adopted a revised dividend policy.

The new policy calls for a target payout ratio of 50 to 55 percent of earnings in 2011 and subsequent years. The company expects to remain at or near the bottom of this new payout range for at least the next two years – given the capital investment for renewable energy, environmental improvements and distribution network renewal that is already planned for 2011 and 2012.

Previously, the company had been targeting a dividend payout ratio between 40 and 45 percent of earnings for 2011, moving to a target payout ratio of 45 to 50 percent of earnings in 2012.

"With the completion of our decade-long Power the Future Plan and projected capital spending of $500 to $600 million per year post 2012, we believe that a modest increase in our dividend payout ratio is warranted," said Gale Klappa, chairman, president and chief executive of Wisconsin Energy.

"This new policy is consistent with our key financial goals: to maintain strong 'A' category credit ratings at our utilities and fund new investment opportunities without issuing additional shares of common stock," Klappa added.

A quarterly dividend rate that is consistent with the new policy is expected to be declared by the directors at their first quarter meeting in January 2011.

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 more than 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.

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 payout ratios and capital expenditures.

Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in any forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:  (i) factors affecting utility operations, including catastrophic weather related or terrorism related damage, the availability of electric generating facilities, unanticipated changes in coal or natural gas prices, purchased power costs and supply and transportation availability, the ability to recover fuel and purchased power costs,  environmental incidents, and key personnel changes; (ii) general economic conditions; (iii) timing, resolution and impact of pending and future rate cases and other regulatory decisions; (iv) construction risks; (v) equity and bond market fluctuations and events in the global credit markets that may affect the availability and cost of capital; (vi) the impact of recent and future federal, state and local legislative and regulatory changes; (vii) current and future litigation, regulatory investigations, proceedings or inquiries; (viii) the investment performance of our pension and other post-retirement benefit trusts; and (ix) 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, 2009 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 Corporation