Williams Cos.

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expects to meet or exceed Wall Street's projections for 2001, citing the growth in its energy business and expanded earnings capacity in marketing and trading.

Williams expects to earn $1.26 a share for the entire company in 2001. The company projected earnings of $1.73 a share when only the results from its energy operations are calculated. Analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

are calling for Williams to earn $1.26 for the year. Wall Street expects the company to earn $1.35 in 2000, up from the 48 cents Williams earned in the year-ago period.

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The forecast doesn't include the impact of the possible spinoff of

Williams Communications

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, which is still being evaluated.

Shares of Williams, an energy and communications company based in Tulsa, Okla., slipped $1.25, or 3.3%, to $36.69 in recent

New York Stock Exchange