Williams reports 46 percent decline in profits

Thursday, April 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Williams Cos. said Thursday its first quarter profits fell 46 percent from a year ago, reflecting a $232 million charge related to its now bankrupt former subsidiary.

The Tulsa-based energy company reported net income of $107.7 million, or 7 cents per share, compared with the prior year's net income of $199.2 million, or 41 cents.

The pre-tax charge aims to reduce the value of receivables Williams is carrying from Williams Communications Group, which filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday, just less than a year after the spinoff.

Williams Cos. said it is owed about $2.5 billion, of which it estimates $2.1 billion are not recoverable.

William's recurring earnings, excluding charges, beat analysts expectations and an earlier company forecast, but shares fell 45 cents, or 2 percent, in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company reported first quarter recurring earnings of $267.5 million, or 51 cents per share, compared with restated recurring earnings of $374.5 million, or 77 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had expected earnings of 42 cents per share, and the company had forecast earnings between 40 cents and 45 cents a share.

Revenue fell to $2.18 billion from an adjusted $3.06 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Profits at Williams energy marketing and energy trading segment fell to $281.1 million in the period from $484.5 million a year ago.

Its energy service division, saw profits nearly double to $233.9 million from $117.1 million a year ago. The increase stemmed largely from increase natural gas production and higher average natural gas liquids margins, the company said.

Earnings in Williams' gas pipeline division rose to $190.2 million from $176.7 million on a restated basis, due to higher equity from new projects and new transportation rates.

Williams restated its March 8 forecast for full-year earnings between $2.15 and $2.30 a share for 2002 and 15 percent projected growth in earnings per share for 2003.