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NiSource (NI) Boosts Dividend Rate by 6.5%, Time to Buy?

Diversified utility NiSource Inc. NI announced that its board of directors has approved an increase in the quarterly dividend rate by 6.5%. The revised quarterly dividend will be 16.5 cents payable on Aug 19, 2016, to shareholders of record at the close of business on Jul 29, 2016.

The annualized dividend rate of the company comes to 66 cents while the dividend yield is 2.77%, better than the S&P 500 yield of 1.74%. The dividend hike is in sync with NiSource’s plan to increase the rate by 4% to 6% annually.

Thanks to consistent investments in its regulated operation, NiSource is being able to reliably serve its expanding customer base. Also, the improvement in net income enables the company to carry out its shareholder friendly moves.

Since, the spin-off of the Columbia Pipeline Group, the company is concentrating on its core natural gas and electric utility business. The focus is also on unlocking more value from the rest of its business.  

The company’s regulated operations should see significant growth, as these operate in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Northeast, accounting for a large part of the nation’s natural gas consumption.

NiSource has an ambitious long-term investment plan of $30 billion to strengthen existing operations. These investments will generate enough cash flows to fund dividend payments. We expect this trend to continue in the future.

Stable and regulated operations of the utilities enable them to share more profits with their shareholders. Utilities like Duke Energy DUK, NextEra Energy NEE and Edison International EIX among others have been consistently raising their rates over the last few years.

NiSource currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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