DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Williams Cos.'s (WMB) first-quarter earnings rose 32%, mostly on gains related to the sale of former assets in Venezuela, while midstream and interstate gas-pipeline asset-holder Williams Partners LP's (WPZ) first-quarter profit increased 13%.
However, Williams Partners common units were down 2.8% at $54.84 in after-hours trading as earnings missed expectations. Williams shares were down 2 cents to $32.94 in after-hours trading.
Pipeline companies in the U.S. are undergoing a wave of acquisitions and expansion as they seek to adapt to the new geography of energy production brought about by shale production. Williams Partners last month unveiled a $2.5 billion deal to acquire Caiman Eastern Midstream LLC, which has midstream facilities in the Marcellus Shale, a major unconventional shale-energy field that underlies several Northeastern states.
Williams reported a profit of $423 million, or 70 cents a share, up from $321 million, or 54 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding the asset-sale gains and other items, earnings from continuing operations were up at 39 cents from 28 cents. Revenue increased 6.7% to $1.69 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently projected earnings of 36 cents on revenue of $1.95 billion.
Williams Partners reported a profit of $348 million, or 85 cents a unit, up from $307 million, or 81 cents a unit, a year earlier. Analysts expected earnings of 90 cents. The company said the growth was mostly due to improved fee-based revenue at its midstream and gas pipeline businesses as well as stronger natural-gas liquids margins.
Williams last year opted against an initial public offering of its exploration and production business, instead opting for a spinoff of a public company, named WPX Energy Inc. (WPX), which was completed early this year. WPX plans to report its first-quarter financial results May 3.
-By Tess Stynes, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2481; Tess.Stynes@dowjones.com