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Profits Fall at Williams

The company's adjusted earnings miss estimates.
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Natural gas company



said its fourth-quarter earnings declined after it recorded more than $120 million in charges and accruals.

Williams posted fourth-quarter net income of $66.8 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with earnings of $73.4 million, or 13 cents a share, for the year-ago period. The results for the most recent fourth quarter include $64 million in litigation accruals and $61 million of impairment charges associated with two noncore equity investments.

Earnings from continuing operations, excluding the effect of a mark-to-market accounting change, rose to $154.3 million, or 26 cents a share, from $51 million, or 9 cents a share, for the same period in 2004.

On that basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were forecasting a profit of 31 cents in the 2005 quarter.

This year, Williams expects $1.52 billion to $1.86 billion in consolidated segment profits and earnings of 78 cents to $1.03 a share. The consensus forecast is $1.18 a share.

Williams expects consolidated segment profit of $1.83 billion to $2.25 billion, adjusted for the effects of mark-to-market accounting, in 2007. For 2008, the company is projecting consolidated segment profit of $2.02 billion to $2.58 billion.

Shares of Williams were down $1.58, or 7.1%, to $20.55 in premarket trading Tuesday.