9. Williams Companies
Williams Companies (WMB - Get Report) is engaged in finding, producing, gathering, processing and transporting natural gas, with operations in the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Gulf Coast, the Eastern Seaboard and the province of Alberta in Canada.
Daniel Loeb's Third Point bought 4 million shares of Williams in the fourth quarter. Jana Partners bought 3.6 million shares while Steven Cohen's SAC Capital bought 1.7 million.The natural gas company said in mid-February that it would spin off its exploration and production business during the third quarter of 2011 through a public offering of up to 20% of its interest and then spin off the remaining interest in 2012 to shareholders. Following the spinoff, Williams shareholders will own a stake in: Williams, a premier owner/operator of North American midstream infrastructure and natural gas pipeline assets and, separately, a large-scale, independent North American diversified exploration and production company with interests in South America. "Williams has generated significant value by operating as an integrated natural gas company," said Alan Armstrong, Williams' chief executive officer. "As we look to the future, though, we are convinced that the capital efficiency created by separating into two distinct investment opportunities will allow shareholders to realize greater value." The company also recently announced a dividend hike of 60% in the first quarter, with plans to additionally raise dividends by 10 % to 15% in 2012. Nine analysts rate the stock a buy, while 2 have a hold rating. There were no sell ratings on the stock.