Williams sees third quarter profit boost

Thursday, October 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Natural gas trading and exploration and production drove a third-quarter jump in Williams' earnings, beating analysts' expectations by 23 percent, the company said Thursday.

The Tulsa-based energy firm reported net income of $221.3 million, or 44 cents per share, compared with $121.1 million, or 27 cents per share, a year ago. Last year's earnings included a $55.4 million charge for discontinued operations.

Excluding the lower market value of company investments, Williams' results would be 65 cents per share in the third quarter, versus expectations of 53 cents per share, the company said.

Third quarter revenues increased 22 percent from $2.3 billion to $2.8 billion.

``On the strength of this quarter, I am confident that our results from operations for 2001 will top last year's record performance,'' said Keith Bailey, chairman and chief executive officer.

The results included $94.2 million in investment charges, including a $71 million reduction in Williams' retained investment in Williams Communications.

The company's energy marketing and trading segment saw profits soar from $147.1 million last year to $357.2 million, primarily on natural gas and power trading. The quarter also benefited from increased earnings from crude oil and refined products trading.

William's energy services unit saw profits climb 28 percent to $215.9 million in the third quarter. Profits in the exploration and production segment more than tripled to $56.9 million, largely because of the company's acquisition of Barrett Resources.

The $2.5 billion acquisition in August nearly tripled Williams' natural gas reserves.

The company raised its earnings guidance for 2001 from $2.30-$2.35 per share to about $2.40 per share. It estimates earnings growth will continue at 15 percent or more per year.