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Hawaiian Electric Industries increases earnings 8%, raises dividend

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Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. boosted its earnings 8% in the fourth quarter and 24.4% for the year as now-retired President and CEO Connie Lau capped off her 37-year career with the HEI family of companies.

The holding company for the state’s largest utility also announced that it is increasing its quarterly dividend by a penny to 35 cents a share that will be payable March 10 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Feb. 24. Based on today’s closing price, HEI’s annualized dividend yield is 3.39%.

“Hawaiian Electric’s hard work on cost efficiencies enabled us to deliver strong financial results for the utility, while providing significant customer savings and advancing our ambitious climate change action plan,” new President and CEO Scott Seu said today on a conference call with analysts. “Improved credit quality and Hawaii’s recovering economy drove bank earnings above initial expectations.”

Seu, who had been president and CEO of HEI subsidiary Hawaiian Electric before replacing Lau on Jan. 1, said the utility’s focus on cost efficiency enabled it to deliver $8 million in savings to customers in 2021.

“At year-end we dedicated an additional $2 million to provide bill credits for eligible customers in need of support as our state continues its economic recovery,” Seu said. “In addition, in 2021 we demonstrated our strong commitment to addressing climate change. We pledged to cut carbon emissions from power generation 70% by 2030, compared to a 2005 baseline, and achieve or exceed carbon neutrality by 2045. And together with our customers we reached one gigawatt of solar capacity on our system, an important milestone toward our goal. We look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders to build on this momentum.”

In the fourth quarter, HEI’s net income rose to $54.5 million, or 50 cents a share, to beat analysts’ estimate of 42 cents a share, In the year-earlier quarter, HEI earned $50.5 million, or 46 cents a share. Revenue rose 18.1% to $770.3 million from $652.2 million.

For the year, HEI reported net income of $246.2 million, or $2.25 a share, compared with $197.8 million, or $1.81 a share, in 2020.

HEI’s net income for its utility segment, which covers Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii island, slipped 2.3% in the quarter to $42 million from $43 million in the year- earlier period while revenue rose 21.4% to $693.4 million from $571.1 million.

HEI subsidiary American Savings Bank, the state’s third-largest bank, boosted its earnings 41.3% in the fourth quarter amid double-digit deposit growth and the release of $3.5 million from its loan-loss reserve. The bank, which reported its earnings separately on Jan. 28, reported net income of $22.1 million compared with $15.7 million in the year-ago period when it set aside $11.3 million for potential loan losses.

HEI’s stock slipped 3 cents to $41.26 after the earnings were announced.

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