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.

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