FirstEnergy Announces Dividend Policy to Support Enhanced Shareholder Returns
November 9, 2018
FirstEnergy today announced that our Board of Directors has approved a dividend policy that reflects the company’s confidence in its growth initiatives.
The new policy includes a targeted payout ratio of 55 to 65 percent of the company’s operating (non-GAAP) earnings.
As a first step, the Board declared a dividend of $0.38 per common share payable on March 1, 2019, to shareholders of record as of February 7, 2019. This represents an increase of 6 percent compared to quarterly payments of $0.36 per common share paid by the company since 2014.
The Board will continue to base decisions regarding future dividend payments on FirstEnergy’s earnings growth, cash flows, credit metrics, and other business conditions.
“The adoption of a dividend policy is a capstone on our transformation to a fully regulated utility,” said FirstEnergy President and CEO Chuck Jones. “With a long-term, sustainable growth plan supported by investment grade credit ratings, we are well positioned to enhance shareholder returns as we continue to invest in our strategic initiatives.”
FirstEnergy also announced 2019 operating (non-GAAP) earnings guidance of $2.45 to $2.75 per fully diluted share*, and affirmed its compound annual operating (non-GAAP) earnings growth rate projection of 6 to 8 percent through 2021.
Chuck will discuss these developments and the company’s key objectives in a presentation to investors at the Edison Electric Institute Financial Conference on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, at approximately 11:15 a.m. EST.
A live webcast of the presentation will be available on FirstEnergy’s investor information website, www.firstenergycorp.com/ir, by clicking the Edison Electric Institute Financial Conference link. Presentation slides and associated materials are also available on the website.
The webcast and presentation will also be archived on FirstEnergy’s website and available for replay for up to one year.
* The Company’s management team cannot estimate on a forward-looking basis the impact of special items in the context of Operating earnings (loss) per share growth projections because special items, which could be significant, are difficult to predict and may be highly variable. Consequently, the Company is unable to reconcile Operating earnings (loss) per share growth projections to a GAAP measure without unreasonable effort. 2019 operating (non-GAAP) earnings guidance of $2.45 to $2.75 per share is based on forecasted GAAP net income of $1,320 million to $1,485 million and fully diluted shares of 540 million.
Forward-Looking Statements: This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 based on information currently available to management. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties and readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. These statements include declarations regarding management’s intents, beliefs and current expectations. These statements typically contain, but are not limited to, the terms “anticipate,” “potential,” “expect,” “forecast,” “target,” “will,” “intend,” “believe,” “project,” “estimate,” “plan” and similar words. Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions, known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, which may include the following: the ability to successfully execute an exit of commodity-based generation that minimizes cash outflows and associated liabilities, including, without limitation, the losses, guarantees, claims and other obligations of FirstEnergy Corp. (FE), together with its consolidated subsidiaries (FirstEnergy), as such relate to the entities previously consolidated into FirstEnergy, including FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. (FES), its subsidiaries, and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC), which have filed for bankruptcy protection (FES Bankruptcy); the risks that conditions to the definitive settlement agreement with respect to the FES Bankruptcy may not be met or that the settlement agreement may not be otherwise consummated, and if so, the potential for litigation and payment demands against FirstEnergy by FES, FENOC or their creditors; the risks associated with the FES Bankruptcy that could adversely affect FirstEnergy, its liquidity or results of operations; the accomplishment of our regulatory and operational goals in connection with our transmission and distribution investment plans; changes in assumptions regarding economic conditions within our territories, assessment of the reliability of our transmission and distribution system, or the availability of capital or other resources supporting identified transmission and distribution investment opportunities; the ability to accomplish or realize anticipated benefits from strategic and financial goals, including, but not limited to, our strategy to operate as a fully regulated business and to grow the Regulated Distribution and Regulated Transmission segments to continue to reduce costs through FE Tomorrow, FirstEnergy’s initiative launched in late 2016 to identify its optimal organizational structure and properly align corporate costs and systems to efficiently support a fully regulated company going forward, and other initiatives, and to improve our credit metrics and strengthen our balance sheet; the risks and uncertainties associated with litigation, arbitration, mediation and like proceedings; the uncertainties associated with the sale, transfer or deactivation of our remaining commodity-based generating units, including the impact on vendor commitments, and as it relates to the reliability of the transmission grid, the timing thereof; the uncertainty of the timing and amounts of the capital expenditures that may arise in connection with any litigation, including New Source Review litigation, or potential regulatory initiatives or rulemakings; changes in customers’ demand for power, including, but not limited to, changes resulting from the implementation of state and federal energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; economic and weather conditions affecting future sales, margins and operations, such as significant weather events, and all associated regulatory events or actions; changes in national and regional economic conditions affecting FirstEnergy and/or our major industrial and commercial customers, and other counterparties with which we do business; the impact of labor disruptions by our unionized workforce; the risks associated with cyber-attacks and other disruptions to our information technology system that may compromise our generation, transmission and/or distribution services and data security breaches of sensitive data, intellectual property and proprietary or personally identifiable information regarding our business, employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, business partners and other individuals in our data centers and on our networks; the impact of the regulatory process and resulting outcomes on the matters at the federal level and in the various states in which we do business, including, but not limited to, matters related to rates; the impact of the federal regulatory process on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulated entities and transactions, in particular FERC regulation of PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (PJM) wholesale energy and capacity markets and cost-of-service rates, as well as FERC’s compliance and enforcement activity, including compliance and enforcement activity related to North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s mandatory reliability standards; the uncertainties of various cost recovery and cost allocation issues resulting from American Transmission Systems, Incorporated’s realignment into PJM; the ability to comply with applicable state and federal reliability standards and energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; other legislative and regulatory changes, including the federal administration’s required review and potential revision of environmental requirements, including, but not limited to, the effects of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, Coal Combustion Residuals, and Cross State Air Pollution Rule programs, including our estimated costs of compliance, Clean Water Act (CWA) waste water effluent limitations for power plants, and CWA 316(b) water intake regulation; changing market conditions that could affect the measurement of certain liabilities and the value of assets held in our pension trusts and other trust funds, and cause us and/or our subsidiaries to make additional contributions sooner, or in amounts that are larger, than currently anticipated; the impact of changes to significant accounting policies; the impact of any changes in tax laws or regulations, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, adopted December 22, 2017, or adverse tax audit results or rulings; the ability to access the public securities and other capital and credit markets in accordance with our financial plans, the cost of such capital and overall condition of the capital and credit markets affecting us and our subsidiaries; actions that may be taken by credit rating agencies that could negatively affect us and/or our subsidiaries’ access to financing, increase the costs thereof, letters of credit and other financial guarantees, and the impact of these events on the financial condition and liquidity of FE and/or its subsidiaries; issues concerning the stability of domestic and foreign financial institutions and counterparties with which we do business; and the risks and other factors discussed from time to time in our United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, and other similar factors. Dividends declared from time to time on FE’s common stock, and thereby on FE’s preferred stock, during any period may in the aggregate vary from prior periods due to circumstances considered by FE’s Board of Directors at the time of the actual declarations. A security rating is not a recommendation to buy or hold securities and is subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the assigning rating agency. Each rating should be evaluated independently of any other rating. These forward-looking statements are also qualified by, and should be read together with, the risk factors included in our filings with the SEC, including but not limited to the most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, which risk factors supersede and replace the risk factors contained in the Annual Report on Form 10-K and previous Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and any subsequent Current Reports on Form 8-K. The foregoing review of factors also should not be construed as exhaustive. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all such factors, nor assess the impact of any such factor on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation to update or revise, except as required by law, any forward-looking statements contained herein as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.