Northeast Utilities (
) -- New England's largest public utility, with 3.6 million
customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire --
announced an increase in its quarterly dividend earlier this
The new dividend is 39.25 cents per share and is payable on
March 31 to shareholders of record March 3. It represents a 6.8%
increase from the previous quarterly dividend of 36.75 cents.
The company's CEO, Thomas J. May, says the increase
demonstrates the confidence the company has in its business model
as a regulated utility.
Northeast sells natural gas and electricity, and heightened
demand brought on by multiple bouts of severe cold that has
gripped the northeastern U.S. this winter has put a strain on the
region's ability to keep the lights on and the heaters
The situation is so extreme that grid operators have been
forced to fire up some infrequently used turbines that burn jet
The dividend announcement was Feb. 4. On Feb. 6, the company
announced earnings that missed analysts' estimates, but beat on
EPS was 57 cents, a 2% increase from the year-ago quarter.
Estimates were a penny higher. Revenue was 6% higher. Analysts
expect a 1% increase in the next report. The company set 2014
guidance at $2.60 to $2.75 a share.
Earnings have been growing at Northeast Utilities, if slowly
and a little erratically. The five-year annualized growth rate is
7%. The five-year Earnings Stability Factor is 6 on a 0 to 99
scale where low numbers correspond to steady earnings growth.
The new dividend equates to $1.57 a share annually, which
works out to a 3.5% yield.
Northeast's stock has been moving generally sideways for the
past year. Since May, it has been going through a saucer-like
consolidation that corrected only 14%.