Enbridge says 2013 profit at low end of target, raises payout

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc , Canada's largest pipeline operator, said on Wednesday 2013 earnings would be at the low end of its target of C$1.74 to C$1.90 per share, but boosted its dividend by 11 percent.

Enbridge, which has forecast that earnings per share will grow 10 percent to 12 percent annually between 2013 and 2017, said earnings this year and next will be below that target as it completes an expansion of its network of pipelines, which now carry the bulk of Canada's crude oil exports to the United States.

"The combination of the peak level of work in progress and significant equity prefunding means that earnings per share growth for 2013 and 2014, though strong, will be slightly below the long term average of 10-12 percent, with the expectation of then climbing above the average beginning in 2015," Al Monaco, the company's chief executive, said in a statement.

The company said it expects 2014 earnings per share of between C$1.84 and C$2.04.

Congested Canadian export pipelines have caused Enbridge to ration how much crude shippers can transport on its network. That exacerbates price discounts on oil sands crude against the West Texas Intermediate benchmark as production gets bottlenecked in Alberta.

The company said it will increase its quarterly dividend to 35 Canadian cents per share beginning at the end of March, up from 31.5 Canadian cents.

Enbridge shares closed at C$43.26 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The shares have climbed 6.2 percent over the past 12 months compared with a 9.3 percent rise in the exchange's benchmark index over the same period.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett and Nia Williams; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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