TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Williams Cos. reported a $478 million loss in 2001 after taking a fourth-quarter charge of $1.3 billion for the debt of its former communications unit.
The Tulsa-based energy company delayed the release of its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings in January while officials assessed financial obligations related to the spinoff of Williams Communications Group.
The company said it needed to review ``contingent financial commitments associated with'' the April 2001 spinoff.
The loss stems from about $2.2 billion of debt the Williams Cos. guaranteed for Williams Communications Group.
Most of that debt has been adopted by Williams Cos. due to concerns about Williams Communications, which is laying off hundreds of workers and may declare bankruptcy.
The 2001 loss compares with net income of $524.3 million, or $1.17 per share, in 2000.
The communications charge led to a fourth-quarter loss of $1.24 billion, or $2.39 per share, the company reported. That compares to a loss of $48.3 million, or 11 cents per share, during the same quarter in 2000.
Williams Cos. does not expect to record any more charges related to its Williams Communications obligations, officials said.
When the company announced it was delaying the earnings forecast, stock fell 22 percent, prompting Williams Communications to issue a statement reassuring its investors.
The announcement of the delay in releasing fourth-quarter and year-end earnings created confusion with investors
But the company's plan to reduce its debt and shore up its balance sheet has apparently reassured investors.
Shares of Williams Cos. rose $1.82, or 9 percent, Thursday to close at $22.10. That's up from $14.05 on Feb. 6.
The company's debt-reduction plan also includes a $1 billion reduction in capital spending; sale of $1.1 billion in securities (completed); divestiture of non-core assets and a $50 million cut in annual expenses.