Williams loses $814.5 million in the first quarter

Tuesday, May 13th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Williams Cos. reported its fourth straight quarterly loss Tuesday after an accounting rule change for energy traders cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Tulsa-based energy firm lost $814.5 million, or $1.59 per share in the first quarter, compared with net income of $107.7 million, or 7 cents per share, for the same period in 2002.

As it had anticipated, Williams recorded a $762.5 million charge in the first quarter for a required accounting change on its long-term energy trading contracts.

Williams' shares fell 2 percent early Tuesday to trade at $6.85.

The company, which has been selling off assets to pay off debts, had a loss of $57.7 million, or 13 cents per share, from continuing operations, compared with restated income from continuing operations of $98.4 million, or 5 cents per share, a year ago.

Williams has been refocusing on core businesses of natural gas production, gathering, processing and pipeline transportation.

That segment reported a profit of $327.6 million in the first quarter, down from a restated profit of $339.9 million in the same period last year. The first-quarter 2003 results included a $109 million pre-tax charge related to an April agreement to sell Texas Gas Transmission Corp.

The company reported total liquidity of about $1.8 billion, with $1.4 billion of that in cash. The company also expects to receive about $2 billion in cash in May and June from the closing of asset sales.

At the end of the first quarter, the company had total debt of approximately $13.8 billion, compared with $14 billion at the end of 2002.