June 26, 2008

Williams Hikes Earnings Estimates

By Jack Money, The Oklahoman

Jun. 26--TULSA -- Favorable prices for commodities prompted The Williams Cos. on Wednesday to announced it increased its profit and per-share earnings guidance for 2008 and 2009, the company said.

The company now expects profits for 2008 in the range of $3.1 billion to $3.65 billion, from an earlier estimate of $2.5 billion to $3 billion. Per-share earnings in 2008 were revised from $1.70 to $2.10.

And guidance for 2009 included expecting earnings of $2.9 billion to $3.8 billion. Per-share earnings estimate was changed from $1.80 to $2.30. Capital expenditure budgets also are being increased.

Jake Dollarhide, founder of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, said the revisions are "further proof that Williams is firing on all cylinders."

"This is a company that has exerted all the energy it possibly could to claw its way out of the deep dark hole it found itself in six years ago when it was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy," he said. "Williams has a rich history here in Tulsa ... but today, in many ways, it is a different company than it used to be.

"Way back when, it was a pipeline company. Today, it is an explorer and extractor, a processor and storer. It still is a pipeline company, but it is a walking mountain natural gas plant at this point," he said.

Dollarhide said Williams is not alone in Oklahoma when it comes to high-performing energy companies, either -- a thought echoed by Sheraz Mian, a senior analyst with Zacks Investment Research.

"The earnings revision is directly related to the current strength in natural gas and natural gas liquids prices. Williams enjoys a fairly strong exposure to the current strength in commodity prices," Mian said.


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