MILWAUKEE, May 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At Wisconsin Energy's (NYSE: WEC) annual meeting of stockholders held today at Concordia University Wisconsin, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Gale Klappa described the successful completion of the company's Power the Future plan and called 2011 a year of exceptional progress.
Klappa cited the following 2011 highlights:
Earnings and financial strength
- The highest net income in company history.
- Earnings from continuing operations of $2.18 per share – a 13.5 percent increase over the $1.92 per share recorded in 2010. (Earnings reflect the two-for-one stock split in March 2011.)
- Retired $450 million of long-term debt.
- Repurchased $100 million of Wisconsin Energy stock at an average price of $30.79 a share.
- 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 83.3 percent over three years, 69.7 percent over five years, 150.2 percent over seven years and 308.4 percent over 10 years.
- Raised the dividend by 15 percent in January 2012, to an annual rate of $1.20 per share.
- By 2014, Klappa said, the goal is to increase the company's dividend payout to 60 percent of earnings – a level more competitive with other regulated energy companies. This policy should support double digit increases in the dividend in 2013 and 2014.
- The largest construction program in state history is now complete – bringing four major new generating units online between 2001 and 2011.
- The second 615-megawatt unit at the company's Oak Creek expansion achieved commercial operation on Jan. 12, 2011.
- Between 2000 and 2013, power plant capacity will increase by 50 percent, while systemwide emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury are expected to decrease by 70 percent.
- The Glacier Hills Wind Park achieved commercial operation on Dec. 20, 2011, making it Wisconsin's largest wind farm.
- For the fourth quarter of 2011, 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 seventh time in the past 10 years by an independent consulting firm.
- Best overall safety results in company history. An improvement of more than 66 percent since 2003 in both recordable incidents and lost-time accidents.
- Rated a perfect '10' by Governance Metrics International (GMI) 28 out of the past 29 times for the company's governance practices. Wisconsin Energy is the only company, out of more than 4,000 companies rated worldwide, to consistently earn this distinction from GMI, an independent rating agency.
- Named for the fifth 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.
- Approve changes that will require directors to be elected by majority vote in uncontested elections.
- Ratify Deloitte & Touche LLP as independent auditors for 2012.
- Approve the compensation of the company's named executive officers as disclosed in the proxy statement (say-on-pay).