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FLORIDA PROGRESS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ADDRESSES ANALYSTS; PREDICTS TREND OF LOWER DIVIDEND GROWTH

 FLORIDA PROGRESS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ADDRESSES ANALYSTS;
 PREDICTS TREND OF LOWER DIVIDEND GROWTH
 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- In a presentation to security analysts, Florida Progress Corporation's (NYSE: FPC) chief financial officer today said the electric utility industry is experiencing lower allowed rates of return on equity (ROE) set by state and federal regulators. Lower returns will likely result in a trend of declining dividend growth, said Senior Vice President David R. Kuzma.
 Kuzma made the remarks during a company presentation at a national financial conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., sponsored by the Edison Electric Institute. As part of his presentation, Kuzma discussed changing financial trends in the electric utility industry. He said many dividend payout ratios in the industry are already high and dividend growth is likely to decline compared with recent years.
 Two weeks ago, St. Petersburg-based Florida Power Corporation, the principal subsidiary of Florida Progress, received approval for a 9- percent base rate increase from the Florida Public Service Commission. Kuzma said low interest rates are influencing rate decisions by state regulators. This is resulting in lower regulatory rates of return for utilities, including Florida Power. The commission set Florida Power's new allowed return on equity at a midpoint of 12 percent.
 Florida Power also has filed for a wholesale rate increase with federal regulators. Company officials expect federal regulators to set the wholesale ROE lower than the retail return.
 Kuzma said earnings growth at Florida Progress is not expected to be sufficient to allow the company to continue to increase its annual dividend at the current rate. When the Florida Progress board of directors meets Nov. 19 to decide the company's new annual dividend rate, the increase is likely to be in the range of between 2 and 3 percent. The company's last dividend increase, set by the board in November of last year, was 3.6 percent.
 Florida Progress is a diversified electric utility holding company with assets of $5 billion. Its principal subsidiary is Florida Power, the state's second-largest electric utility. Diversified operations include coal mining and transportation, life insurance, real estate and lending and leasing.
 -0- 10/12/92
 /CONTACT: Sally Everett of Florida Progress Corporation, 813-824-6440/
 (FPC) CO: Florida Progress Corporation ST: Florida IN: UTI SU: DIV


JJ-SS -- FL008 -- 8912 10/12/92 15:03 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 12, 1992
Words:384
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