WEC Energy Group posts strong 2020 results

MILWAUKEE, Feb. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC) today reported net income of $1.20 billion, or $3.79 per share, for 2020. This compares to earnings of $1.13 billion, or $3.58 per share, for 2019.

For the fourth quarter of 2020, WEC Energy Group recorded net income of $239.0 million, or 76 cents per share. This compares to earnings of $243.9 million, or 77 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2019.

"In a challenging year, we turned resilience into results for our stockholders, our customers, and our communities," said Gale Klappa, executive chairman. "And our momentum should accelerate in 2021 as we execute our ESG Progress Plan -- investing in efficiency, sustainability, and growth."

WEC Energy Group was recently recognized as one of America's Most Responsible Companies by Newsweek and, during the fourth quarter of 2020, We Energies was also honored for superior reliability of its electric delivery network. This marks the tenth consecutive year that We Energies has been named the most reliable utility in the Midwest.

For the full year, retail deliveries of electricity -- excluding the iron ore mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula -- decreased by 2.1 percent. Residential electricity use rose by 5.5 percent.

Electricity consumption by small commercial and industrial customers declined by 4.8 percent. Electricity use by large commercial and industrial customers -- excluding the iron ore mine -- dropped by 6.5 percent during 2020.

On a weather-normal basis for 2020, retail deliveries of electricity -- excluding the iron ore mine -- fell by 2.9 percent.

Natural gas deliveries in Wisconsin, excluding gas used for power generation, decreased by 7.9 percent during 2020. On a weather-normal basis, natural gas deliveries were 2.4 percent lower during the year.

At the end of 2020, the company was serving approximately 11,000 more electric customers and 27,000 more natural gas customers than at the same time a year ago.

"Today, we are also reaffirming the company's 2021 earnings guidance. We expect earnings to be in a range of $3.99 to $4.03 per share -- in line with our long-term objective of growing earnings at a rate of 5 to 7 percent annually," Klappa said.

Earnings per share listed in this news release are on a fully diluted basis.

Conference call
A conference call is scheduled for 1 p.m. Central time, Thursday, Feb. 4. The call will review 2020 earnings and the company's outlook for the future.

All interested parties, including stockholders, news media and the general public, are invited to listen. Access the call at 877-683-2228 up to 15 minutes before it begins. The number for international callers is 647-689-5446. The conference ID is 4783763.

Conference call access also is available at wecenergygroup.com. Under 'Webcasts,' select 'Year-End Earnings.' In conjunction with this earnings announcement, WEC Energy Group will post on its website a package of detailed financial information on its 2020 performance. The materials will be available at 6:30 a.m. Central time, Thursday, Feb. 4.

A replay will be available on the website and by phone. Access to the webcast replay will be available on the website about two hours after the call. Access to a phone replay also will be available approximately two hours after the call and remain accessible through Feb. 18, 2021. Domestic callers should dial 800-585-8367. International callers should dial 416-621-4642. The replay conference ID is 4783763.

WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC), based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation's premier energy companies, serving 4.6 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. Another major subsidiary, We Power, designs, builds and owns electric generating plants. In addition, WEC Infrastructure LLC owns a growing fleet of renewable generation facilities in the Midwest.

WEC Energy Group (wecenergygroup.com) is a Fortune 500 company and a component of the S&P 500. The company has approximately 42,000 stockholders of record, 7,500 employees and $37 billion of assets.

Forward-looking statements
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 earnings and future results. 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; the extent, duration and impact of the COVID--19 pandemic or any future health pandemics; 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 advances in, and adoption of, new technologies that produce power or reduce power consumption; energy and environmental conservation efforts; the company's ability to successfully acquire and/or dispose of assets and projects; cyber--security 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, proceedings or inquiries; changes in accounting standards; the financial performance of American Transmission Company 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 December 31, 2019, 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.

Tables follow

            WEC ENERGY GROUP, INC.

              CONSOLIDATED INCOME STATEMENTS (Unaudited)              
            Three Months Ended                   
             Year Ended

            December 31                      
             December 31

                (in millions, except per share amounts)    2020                                     2019           2020                         2019


              Operating revenues                                            $
              1,933.4                             $
            1,947.5            $
          7,241.7  $

              Operating expenses

       Cost of sales                                                     657.5                                            693.0                            2,319.5                2,678.8

       Other operation and maintenance                                   604.7                                            601.4                            2,032.2                2,184.8

       Depreciation and amortization                                     249.3                                            236.2                              975.9                  926.3

       Property and revenue taxes                                         51.4                                             53.8                              208.0                  201.8


              Total operating expenses                             1,562.9                                          1,584.4                            5,535.6                5,991.7


              Operating income                                       370.5                                            363.1                            1,706.1                1,531.4

       Equity in earnings of transmission affiliates                      43.0                                             15.9                              175.8                  127.6

       Other income, net                                                  19.6                                             25.9                               79.5                  102.2

       Interest expense                                                  117.9                                            127.2                              493.7                  501.5

       Loss on debt extinguishment                                        38.4                                                                               38.4


              Other expense                                         (93.7)                                          (85.4)                           (276.8)               (271.7)

       Income before income taxes                                        276.8                                            277.7                            1,429.3                1,259.7

       Income tax expense                                                 37.2                                             33.5                              227.9                  125.0


              Net income                                             239.6                                            244.2                            1,201.4                1,134.7

       Preferred stock dividends of subsidiary                             0.3                                              0.3                                1.2                    1.2

       Net (income) loss attributed to noncontrolling interests          (0.3)                                                                             (0.3)                   0.5


              Net income attributed to common shareholders                    $
              239.0                               $
            243.9            $
          1,199.9  $


              Earnings per share

       Basic                                                                       $
              0.76                                $
            0.77               $
          3.80     $

       Diluted                                                                     $
              0.76                                $
            0.77               $
          3.79     $

              Weighted average common shares outstanding

       Basic                                                             315.4                                            315.4                              315.4                  315.4

       Diluted                                                           316.5                                            316.7                              316.5                  316.7

              Dividends per share of common stock                            $
              0.6325                              $
            0.5900             $
          2.5300   $



                CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS (Unaudited)                                                                                                                  December 31,                      December 31,

                  (in millions, except share and per share amounts)                                                                                                 2020                               2019



                Current assets

       Cash and cash equivalents                                                                                                                                                              $
         24.8                            $

       Accounts receivable and unbilled revenues, net of reserves of $220.1 and $140.0, respectively                                                                              1,202.8                                     1,176.5

       Materials, supplies, and inventories                                                                                                                                         528.6                                       549.8

       Prepayments                                                                                                                                                                  263.4                                       261.8

       Other                                                                                                                                                                         63.4                                        68.0


                Current assets                                                                                                                                                2,083.0                                     2,093.6

                Long-term assets

       Property, plant, and equipment, net of accumulated depreciation and amortization of $9,364.7 and $8,878.7, respectively                                                   25,707.4                                    23,620.1

       Regulatory assets                                                                                                                                                          3,524.1                                     3,506.7

       Equity investment in transmission affiliates                                                                                                                               1,764.3                                     1,720.8

       Goodwill                                                                                                                                                                   3,052.8                                     3,052.8

       Other                                                                                                                                                                        896.5                                       957.8


                Long-term assets                                                                                                                                             34,945.1                                    32,858.2


                Total assets                                                                                                                                                          $
        37,028.1                        $


                Liabilities and Equity

                Current liabilities

       Short-term debt                                                                                                                                                                     $
        1,776.9                           $

       Current portion of long-term debt                                                                                                                                            785.8                                       693.2

       Accounts payable                                                                                                                                                             880.7                                       908.1

       Accrued payroll and benefits                                                                                                                                                 174.0                                       199.8

       Other                                                                                                                                                                        530.7                                       550.8


                Current liabilities                                                                                                                                           4,148.1                                     3,182.7

                Long-term liabilities

       Long-term debt                                                                                                                                                            11,728.1                                    11,211.0

       Deferred income taxes                                                                                                                                                      4,059.8                                     3,769.3

       Deferred revenue, net                                                                                                                                                        412.2                                       497.1

       Regulatory liabilities                                                                                                                                                     3,928.1                                     3,992.8

       Environmental remediation liabilities                                                                                                                                        532.9                                       589.2

       Pension and OPEB obligations                                                                                                                                                 327.0                                       326.2

       Other                                                                                                                                                                      1,229.4                                     1,128.9


                Long-term liabilities                                                                                                                                        22,217.5                                    21,514.5


       Commitments and contingencies

                Common shareholders' equity

       Common stock - $0.01 par value; 325,000,000 shares authorized; 315,434,531 shares outstanding                                                                                  3.2                                         3.2

       Additional paid in capital                                                                                                                                                 4,143.7                                     4,186.6

       Retained earnings                                                                                                                                                          6,329.6                                     5,927.7

       Accumulated other comprehensive loss                                                                                                                                         (6.8)                                      (4.1)


                Common shareholders' equity                                                                                                                                  10,469.7                                    10,113.4


       Preferred stock of subsidiary                                                                                                                                                 30.4                                        30.4

       Noncontrolling interests                                                                                                                                                     162.4                                       110.8


                Total liabilities and equity                                                                                                                                          $
        37,028.1                        $



                CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS (Unaudited)                                                                         
          Year Ended

          December 31

                  (in millions)                                                                                          2020                            2019


                Operating activities

       Net income                                                                                                                               $
            1,201.4                 $

       Reconciliation to cash provided by operating activities

       Depreciation and amortization                                                                                                     975.9                                      926.3

       Deferred income taxes and investment tax credits, net                                                                             209.4                                      162.9

       Contributions and payments related to pension and OPEB plans                                                                    (113.2)                                    (65.9)

       Equity income in transmission affiliates, net of distributions                                                                   (29.1)                                     (2.9)

       Change in -

       Accounts receivable and unbilled revenues, net                                                                                     16.1                                       98.2

       Materials, supplies, and inventories                                                                                               21.2                                      (1.5)

       Other current assets                                                                                                               13.4                                      (7.1)

       Accounts payable                                                                                                                 (61.3)                                       1.5

       Other current liabilities                                                                                                        (41.2)                                      78.7

       Other, net                                                                                                                          3.4                                       20.6


                Net cash provided by operating activities                                                                          2,196.0                                    2,345.5

                Investing activities

       Capital expenditures                                                                                                          (2,238.8)                                 (2,260.8)

       Acquisition of Blooming Grove Wind Energy Center LLC, net of restricted cash acquired of $24.1                                  (364.6)

       Acquisition of Tatanka Ridge Wind LLC                                                                                           (239.9)

       Acquisition of Upstream Wind Energy LLC, net of cash and restricted cash acquired of $9.2                                                                                 (268.2)

       Capital contributions to transmission affiliates                                                                                 (21.2)                                    (52.6)

       Proceeds from the sale of assets and businesses                                                                                    20.3                                       37.6

       Proceeds from the sale of investments held in rabbi trust                                                                          56.2                                        0.2

       Purchase of investments held in rabbi trust                                                                                      (37.8)

       Reimbursement for American Transmission Company LLC's construction costs                                                            1.1                                       32.4

       Insurance proceeds received for property damage                                                                                    23.2

       Other, net                                                                                                                        (5.3)                                      16.5


                Net cash used in investing activities                                                                            (2,806.8)                                 (2,494.9)

                Financing activities

       Exercise of stock options                                                                                                          43.8                                       67.0

       Purchase of common stock                                                                                                         (99.2)                                   (140.1)

       Dividends paid on common stock                                                                                                  (798.0)                                   (744.5)

       Issuance of long-term debt                                                                                                      2,373.6                                    1,895.0

       Retirement of long-term debt                                                                                                  (1,767.0)                                   (360.1)

       Issuance of short-term loan                                                                                                       340.0

       Change in other short-term debt                                                                                                   606.1                                    (609.3)

       Payments for debt extinguishment and issuance costs                                                                              (55.8)                                    (12.5)

       Purchase of additional ownership interest in Upstream Wind Energy LLC from noncontrolling interest                               (31.0)

       Other, net                                                                                                                       (11.4)                                     (9.9)


                Net cash provided by financing activities                                                                            601.1                                       85.6


                Net change in cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash                                                            (9.7)                                    (63.8)

       Cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash at beginning of year                                                                   82.3                                      146.1


                Cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash at end of year                                                                     $
             72.6                    $


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SOURCE WEC Energy Group