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Fortis raises dividend for 41st year in a row, reports $100-million Q4 profit

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Fortis Inc. (TSX:FTS), one of Canada's largest utility companies, is raising its dividend.

The increase takes the quarterly dividend up a penny per share to 32 cents starting March 1, yielding about four per cent annually at current stock prices.

The company, which operates power and gas utilities in several provinces and U.S. states, reported Thursday a profit of $100 million or 47 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31.

The profit was up from $87 million or 45 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Revenue increased to $1.23 billion in the quarter, up from $999 million a year earlier.

Fortis said its largest capital project, at the Waneta hydroelectric generating facility in southern British Columbia, remains on time and on budget. It has a projected cost of $900 million — of which $579 million has been invested since construction began in late 2010.

When completed in 2015, the project will add generating capacity at the Waneta power station, south of Trail, B.C. Fortis owns 51 per cent of Waneta.

Fortis said in December it will buy UNS Energy Corp., an Arizona-based electricity and gas utility company, in a deal valued at $4.3 billion, including $2.5 billion cash plus assumed debt.

The acquisition, which is expected to close later this year, will add 650,000 customers in Arizona — part of the Fortis strategy of geographic diversification.

Fortis says about one-third of its assets will be in the United States once the UNS deal closes, expected later this year.

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