Williams Companies Q4 Earnings Beat; Dividend Boosted; Company to be Split in Two (WMB)

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Natural gas producer Williams Companies, Inc. ( WMB ) on Thursday posted better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings, raised its dividend by 60%, and unveiled plans to split its operations into two separate entities.

The Tulsa, OK-based company reported fourth quarter net income of $174 million, or 29 cents per share, compared with $172 million, or 29 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding one-time items, adjusted profit was 44 cents per share.

On average, Wall Street analysts expected a much smaller adjusted profit of 28 cents per share.

The company also boosted its quarterly dividend payout by 60%, to 20 cents per share. It also said it plans to raise its payout an additional 10% to 15% by June 2012.

Looking ahead, the company forecast full-year 2011 profits to range from $1.05 to $1.75 per share, while analysts expect $1.26 per share for the year.

Late Wednesday, WMB unveiled plans to spin off its natural gas exploration and production business into a separate company, while keeping its infrastructure and natural gas assets under the Williams name.

Williams Companies shares rose $3.39, or +12.2%, in premarket trading Thursday.

The Bottom Line
Shares of Williams Co. ( WMB ) will now have a 2.88% dividend yield, based on the higher dividend payout and last night's closing stock price of $27.76. The stock has technical support in the $26 price area. If the shares can firm up, we see overhead resistance around the $35 price level.

Williams Companies, Inc. ( WMB )
is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com DARS™ Rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars.

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks , as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system here .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Created by Dividend.com

This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: WMB



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