Spectra Energy (SE) revealed a 2012 forecast above Wall Street's expectations on Wednesday, as the natural-gas pipeline operator continues to benefit from high demand for infrastructure in U.S. oil and gas producing regions.

The Houston-based company sees fiscal earnings of $1.90 a share, which is 15% above its 2011 target of $1.65. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are expecting a profit of just $1.86 in 2012.

The company said its 2012 target is “significantly above” its expected growth rate, as it continues to see capital investment opportunities in the $1 billion-plus range per year in the foreseeable future.

Spectra also anticipates earnings and cash distribution growth from DCP Midstream, which continues to invest capital in key producing areas like the Eagle Ford, Permian, Mid-Continent, Denver-Julesburg and other basins.

Given the expectations, Spectra anticipates future annual dividend increases of at least 8 cents a share per year, the company said. Earlier this year, the company announced a 7.7% increase in its annual dividend to $1.12 a share.

The company must first tackle the remaining of 2011, though, as its projected $1.65 earnings target is far below Wall Street’s view of $1.80.

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