ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR -- (Marketwire) -- 02/07/13 -- Fortis Inc. ("Fortis" or the "Corporation") (TSX: FTS) achieved net earnings attributable to common equity shareholders of $315 million, or $1.66 per common share, for 2012 compared to $311 million, or $1.71 per common share, for 2011.
"Our Canadian regulated utilities, led by strong growth at FortisAlberta, achieved approximately 11% growth in earnings year over year," says Stan Marshall, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fortis Inc.
Earnings in 2012 were reduced by $7.5 million as a result of expenses related to the CH Energy Group, Inc. ("CH Energy Group") acquisition, while earnings in 2011 were favourably impacted by $11 million as a result of a merger termination fee paid to Fortis. Excluding these items, earnings to common equity shareholders were $322.5 million, or $1.70 per common share, for 2012 up $22.5 million from $300 million, or $1.65 per common share, for 2011, driven by improved performance at the Canadian Regulated Utilities, partially offset by higher corporate expenses. A 5% increase in the weighted average number of common shares outstanding year over year, largely associated with the issuance of common equity in mid-2011, had the impact of lowering earnings per common share in 2012.
Fortis increased its quarterly common share dividend to 31 cents from 30 cents, commencing with the first quarter dividend payable on March 1, 2013, which translates into an annualized dividend of $1.24. Fortis has raised its annualized dividend to common shareholders for 40 consecutive years, the record for a public corporation in Canada. The dividend payout ratio was 72% in 2012.
"For the fourth consecutive year, our capital program surpassed $1 billion," says Marshall. "Fortis utilities collectively serve more than two million customers and our capital program, the majority of which is occurring in western Canada, will ensure we continue to meet the growing energy needs of our existing and new customers," he explains.
Fortis announced in February 2012 that it had entered into an agreement to acquire CH Energy Group for an aggregate purchase price of approximately US$1.5 billion, including the assumption of approximately US$500 million of debt on closing. CH Energy Group's main business, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation ("Central Hudson"), serves 375,000 electric and gas customers in New York State's Mid-Hudson River Valley. Central Hudson's capital program over the next five years is expected to average more than $125 million annually.
Approval by the New York State Public Service Commission ("NYSPSC") of the Corporation's acquisition of CH Energy Group is the last significant regulatory matter required to close the transaction. A Settlement Agreement, among Fortis, CH Energy Group, NYSPSC staff, registered interveners and other parties, was filed with the NYSPSC in January 2013. The acquisition of CH Energy Group is anticipated to close during the second quarter of 2013. It is expected to be accretive to earnings per common share of Fortis within the first full year of ownership, excluding acquisition-related expenses.
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