Klappa, Fletcher cite milestones in financial performance, network reliability and generation reshaping at annual meeting
MILWAUKEE: At WEC Energy Group’s (NYSE: WEC) annual meeting of stockholders today, Executive Chairman Gale Klappa and President and CEO Kevin Fletcher described 2018 as “another year of significant progress,” pointing to achievements in financial performance, network reliability and infrastructure upgrades.
- WEC Energy Group subsidiary We Energies was named the most reliable utility in the Midwest, the eighth year in a row for this honor.
- WEC Energy Group was named one of America’s Best Employers for Diversity by Forbes Magazine.
- WEC Energy Group achieved the best customer satisfaction results in the nation in a 2018 J.D. Power study that surveyed electric utilities’ largest business customers.
Earnings, financial strength and dividend growth
- The company reported record net income from operations of $1.06 billion and earnings per share of $3.34.
- Dividends increased in January 2019 by 6.8% to an annual rate of $2.36 per share. This marks the 16th consecutive year of higher dividends.
- Dividend target is a payout ratio of 65 to 70% of earnings – a level competitive with peers in the regulated utility sector.
Over the past 16 years:
- Total return to shareholders has significantly outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, NASDAQ, S&P Electric Index, Dow Jones Utility Average and Philadelphia Utility Index.
- Total shareholder return, assuming reinvested dividends, was 789%.
- Total return has averaged 14.6% a year.
- From 2019 through 2023, WEC Energy Group plans to invest $14.1 billion in needed infrastructure projects.
- Extending natural gas infrastructure in Wisconsin to meet growing customer demand.
- Modernizing the city of Chicago’s natural gas pipelines, ultimately replacing 2,000 miles of piping – some more than a century old.
Reshaping generation fleet
- Received approval to build 350 megawatts of utility-scale solar in Wisconsin.
- Brought online two new state-of-the-art power stations fueled with natural gas in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
- Retired nearly 2,000 megawatts of less efficient coal-fueled generating units.
- Released a comprehensive climate report – “Pathway to a Cleaner Energy Future” –that focuses on the risks and opportunities associated with transitioning to a low-carbon economy, based on modeling of dozens of potential pathways for emission reduction.
During the meeting, stockholders elected the following directors to terms expiring at the 2020 annual meeting: Barbara L. Bowles, Albert J. Budney Jr., Patricia W. Chadwick, Curt S. Culver, Danny L. Cunningham, William M. Farrow III, Thomas J. Fischer, J. Kevin Fletcher, Gale E. Klappa, Henry W. Knueppel, Allen L. Leverett, 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 2019.
- Approve compensation of WEC Energy Group’s named executive officers (say-on-pay).
WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC), based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation’s premier energy companies, serving 4.5 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, Minnesota Energy Resources and Upper Michigan Energy Resources. The company’s other major subsidiary, We Power, designs, builds and owns electric generating plants.
WEC Energy Group (wecenergygroup.com) is a Fortune 500 company and a component of the S&P 500. The company has approximately 50,000 stockholders of record, 8,000 employees and nearly $34 billion of assets.
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 payments, dividend payout ratios and investments in infrastructure projects. 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.
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 continue to successfully integrate the operations of its subsidiaries; 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 restructuring and consolidation; continued adoption of distributed generation by the company’s customers; energy and environmental conservation efforts; the company’s ability to successfully acquire and/or dispose of assets and projects; cybersecurity threats and data security breaches; construction risks; equity and bond market fluctuations; changes in the company’s and its subsidiaries’ ability to access the capital markets; the impact of tax reform and any other legislative and regulatory changes, including changes to environmental standards; political developments; current and future litigation and regulatory investigations; changes in accounting standards; the financial performance of the American Transmission Co. as well as projects in which the company’s energy infrastructure business invests; the ability of the company to obtain additional generating capacity at competitive prices; goodwill and its possible impairment; 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, 2017, 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 information.