May 04, 2018 • 10:00 am ET

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Presentation
Executive
Laurence Downes

produced a meaningful incremental boost to NFE in the first quarter. We also expect that it will positively impact our results throughout fiscal 2018 and beyond. Our plan is to reinvest those earnings in our business to reduce our external equity needs, as we advance our infrastructure growth strategy. Tax reform will also help New Jersey Natural Gas customers, who will benefit from lower energy bills. Our regulatory team will be working through that process with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. As a result of all this activity, we have raised our fiscal 2018 earnings guidance to a range of $2.55 per share to $2.65 per share and that compared with our previously announced range of $1.75 per share to $1.85 per share. We also adjusted our annual growth rate to 6% to 8% from 5% to 9%.

Our decision to adjust our annual long term growth rate was based on several factors. First of all, we increased the lower end of the range based on the new lower corporate tax rate, and are confident about delivering steady results in the future. Second, we lowered the top end of the range to more accurately reflect the outperformance from Energy Services that was due to weather, as it did this quarter and will for fiscal 2018. The midpoint of the annual growth range remains at 7% and our goal is to achieve that 7% target going forward.

In addition to the benefits from tax reforms and the performance of Energy Services this year, our business fundamentals remained strong and our goal remains to achieve consistent long-term NFE growth. On Slide 4, we illustrate where we expect to be this year and also shows the impact of the lower tax rate going forward. New Jersey Natural Gas and Clean Energy Ventures are adding customers at a steady rate and Solar continues to be an attractive energy choice for New Jersey homeowners and businesses. We're also making significant progress on our key natural gas infrastructure projects, The Southern Reliability Link, PennEast and Adelphia Gateway.

Moving to Slide 5, you can see our revised guidance to the anticipated sources of NFE for fiscal 2018. Aside from incremental NFE due to tax reform, which we show in red on the pie chart, the largest increase is coming from Energy Services. We currently anticipate that Energy Services will contribute between 20% to 30% of our total NFE in fiscal 2018 and you could see that that is up from 5% to 15% in prior guidance. And we also expect our regulated businesses to contribute to between 40% and 55% in annual NFE.

Moving to Slide 6, we continue to target a strong annual dividend growth rate of between 6% and 8% with a payout ratio goal of between 60% and 65%. This performance will provide a competitive return to our shareowners and keep our balance sheet strong. We'll continue to reinvest earnings in the company to reduce our external equity needs in the future,