Williams Partners Reports Second-Quarter 2012 Financial Results

Williams Partners L.P. (NYSE: WPZ):
Summary Financial Information   2Q       YTD
Amounts in millions, except per-unit amounts. 2012     2011 2012     2011
(Unaudited)
 
Net income $ 193 $ 338 $ 541 $ 645
Net income per common L.P. unit $ 0.29 $ 0.91 $ 1.11 $ 1.72
                   
 
Distributable cash flow (DCF) (1) $ 293 $ 397 $ 768 $ 838
Cash distribution coverage ratio (1) 0.79x 1.39x 1.04x 1.49x

(1) Distributable Cash Flow and Cash Distribution Coverage Ratio are non-GAAP measures. Reconciliations to the most relevant measures included in GAAP are attached to this news release.

Williams Partners L.P. (NYSE: WPZ) today announced unaudited second-quarter 2012 net income of $193 million, or $0.29 per common limited-partner unit, compared with second-quarter 2011 net income of $338 million, or $0.91 per common unit.

Year-to-date through June 30, Williams Partners reported net income of $541 million, or $1.11 per common limited-partner unit, compared with $645 million, or $1.72 per common limited-partner unit, for the first half of 2011.

The decline in net income during the second quarter and year-to-date 2012 is due to a significant decline in natural gas liquid (NGL) margins, primarily in the second quarter of 2012, which led to lower results in the partnership’s midstream business. Other factors, including higher expenses, primarily associated with the partnership’s recent acquisitions also contributed to the lower results in 2012. An increase in fee-based revenue, including a year-to-date increase of 19 percent in the partnership’s midstream business, partially offset the negative impacts of lower NGL prices and other factors.

There is a more detailed analysis of the partnership’s businesses later in this news release.

2Q Distributable Cash Flow

For second-quarter 2012, Williams Partners generated $293 million in distributable cash flow, compared with $397 million in second-quarter 2011. For the first half of 2012, Williams Partners generated $768 million in distributable cash flow, compared with $838 million for the first half of 2011.

The previously noted significant decline in NGL margins was the key driver of the decline in distributable cash flow. Steady results in the gas pipeline business and higher fee-based revenue in the midstream business partially offset the lower NGL margins.

Williams Partners’ second-quarter 2012 distributable cash flow is slightly higher than the estimate of $289 million provided in the partnership’s July 23 guidance news release.

Williams Partners recently announced that it increased its quarterly cash distribution to unitholders to $0.7925 per unit, an 8 percent increase over the year-ago amount. As planned, the partnership’s previously strong cash distribution coverage enabled it to continue its cash distribution growth during a period of significantly unfavorable commodity prices.

CEO Perspective

Alan Armstrong, chief executive officer of Williams Partners’ general partner, made the following comments:

“In the second quarter, our earnings were negatively affected by a rapid, significant decline in NGL prices based on a number of factors, including the record-warm winter and high levels of downtime in third-party ethylene crackers.

“Importantly, we are reaffirming our commitment to the strong growth in our annual cash distributions at levels we have previously announced. That commitment is underpinned by our confidence in the strength of our fundamental business, continued growth and the results of our actions to structure our business to significantly strengthen our cash flows and reduce volatility.

“We are making progress toward dramatically growing the share of our revenues that come from fee-based business, which contributes greatly to cash-flow certainty. The magnitude of the shift is significant, with expected fee-based revenues in our midstream business growing nearly 90 percent from 2011 to 2014. In the first half of this year, we grew the share of revenues from fee-based business by 19 percent in our midstream business and 10 percent overall.

“We also expect the addition of Williams’ Geismar olefins production facility to our portfolio would contribute to greater revenues, strengthen our cash flows and reduce volatility in support of our planned distribution growth.

“We announced last week that we plan to pursue an agreement to acquire the Geismar facility from Williams. That acquisition would transform our commodity-price exposure from ethane, a North American commodity with expected price volatility, to ethylene, a commodity that is advantaged by North America's abundant natural gas and rapidly expanding NGL supplies. With Geismar in our portfolio, we would expect to immediately reduce the partnership’s exposure to the ethane market by nearly 70 percent and nearly eliminate it by 2014.”

Business Segment Performance

Williams Partners’ operations are reported through two business segments, Gas Pipeline and Midstream Gas & Liquids.
Consolidated Segment Profit   2Q       YTD
Amounts in millions 2012     2011 2012     2011
 
Gas Pipeline $ 147 $ 152 $ 327 $ 327
Midstream Gas & Liquids   192   319   500   581
Total Segment Profit $ 339 $ 471 $ 827 $ 908
 
Adjustments   13   3   14   3
 
Adjusted Segment Profit* $ 352 $ 474 $ 841 $ 911

* A schedule reconciling segment profit to adjusted segment profit is attached to this press release.
               
Key Operational Metrics 2011 2012
1Q   2Q   3Q   4Q 1Q   2Q 2Q Change
Fee-based Revenues* (millions) Year-over-year Sequential
Gas Pipeline $ 361 $ 359 $ 368 $ 384 $ 384 $ 366 1.9 % -4.7 %
Midstream Gas & Liquids   217     230     249     248   258     274 19.1 %   6.2 %
Total $ 578 $ 589 $ 617 $ 632 $ 642 $ 640 8.7 % -0.3 %
 
NGL Margins
NGL margins (millions) $ 207 $ 253 $ 234 $ 287 $ 242 $ 189 -25.3 % -21.9 %
NGL equity volumes (gallons in millions) 289 308 274 317 308 295 -4.2 % -4.2 %
Per-unit NGL margins ($/gallon) $ 0.71 $ 0.83 $ 0.85 $ 0.91 $ 0.79 $ 0.64 -22.9 % -19.0 %

* Fee-based revenues is a non-GAAP measure. A reconciliation to the most relevant measure included in GAAP is attached to this news release.

Gas Pipeline

Williams Partners owns two major interstate natural gas pipeline systems – Transco and Northwest Pipeline – and owns 50 percent of Gulfstream. These systems have a combined peak day delivery capacity of more than 14 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), and transport approximately 14 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States.

Gas Pipeline reported segment profit of $147 million for second-quarter 2012, compared with $152 million for second-quarter 2011. The slight decline in the second quarter segment profit was due to an increase in project feasibility costs and other expenses that were mostly offset by an increase in transportation revenue associated with expansion projects placed into service in 2011.

For both the first half of 2012 and the first half of 2011, Gas Pipeline reported segment profit of $327 million. Increased transportation revenue associated with expansion projects and higher equity earnings from an increased interest in Gulfstream were offset by increased project-feasibility costs.

Midstream Gas & Liquids

Midstream provides natural gas gathering, treating, and processing; deepwater production handling and oil transportation; and NGL fractionation, storage and transportation services.

The business reported segment profit of $192 million for second-quarter 2012, compared with segment profit of $319 million for second-quarter 2011.

Lower NGL margins and lower marketing margins driven by a significant and rapid decline in NGL prices were the primary driver of the decline in segment profit during the second quarter. NGL margins benefited from lower natural gas prices. Higher expenses primarily associated with the partnership’s recent acquisitions and accelerated maintenance in the West, also contributed to lower results in the second quarter.

A 19-percent increase in fee-based revenues partially offset the negative impacts described above. The increase in fee-based revenues was primarily due to new volumes on the recently acquired Ohio Valley Midstream system and Susquehanna Supply Hub gathering assets in the Marcellus Shale and higher volumes on the Perdido Norte gas and oil pipelines in the western deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

For the first half of 2012, Midstream reported segment profit of $500 million, compared with $581 million for the first half of 2011. The previously mentioned decline in NGL and marketing margins in the second quarter was the primary driver of the lower segment profit in the year-to-date period. The year-to-date period also was impacted by the previously noted higher expenses related to recent acquisitions and accelerated maintenance in the West. An increase in fee-based revenues partially offset these factors in the first half of the year.

Guidance Unchanged from July 23 Announcement

Williams Partners’ guidance issued on July 23 for distribution growth, distributable cash flow and capital expenditures for 2012-14 is unchanged.

The partnership continues to expect to pay unitholders a full-year 2012 distribution of $3.14 per unit at guidance midpoint, an 8 percent increase over 2011. As well, the partnership confirmed it expects the midpoint of guidance for the full-year distribution it pays unitholders in each 2013 and 2014 to increase by 9 percent – to $3.43 and $3.75, respectively.

Williams Partners’ guidance midpoints for full-year distributable cash flow are $1.6 billion for 2012; $1.9 billion for 2013; and $2.3 billion for 2014. The partnership’s guidance midpoints for capital and investment expenditures are $5.9 billion for 2012; $2.7 billion for 2013 and $1.8 billion for 2014.

As reported in Williams Partners’ July 23 news release, the partnership’s guidance ranges reflect sharply lower near-term NGL prices resulting from record warm winter, high third-party ethylene cracker downtime, growing supplies and other factors. Its 2012 DCF guidance reflects the effect of significantly lower than expected NGL prices and higher than normal maintenance capital expenditures.

The partnership continues to expect the influence of NGL prices on its performance to diminish over the next few years as it transitions to a business mix that is largely fee-based. The partnership's 2013 and 2014 performance expectations reflect that shift to greater fee-based business; the benefit of projects coming into service; and some improvement from current depressed NGL market prices.

Second-Quarter Materials to be Posted Shortly, Q&A Webcast Scheduled for Tomorrow

Williams Partners’ second-quarter 2012 financial results package will be posted shortly at www.williamslp.com. The package will include the data book and analyst package, and the investor presentation with a recorded commentary from Alan Armstrong, CEO of Williams Partners’ general partner.

The partnership will host the second-quarter Q&A live webcast on Thursday, Aug. 2 at 11 a.m. EDT. A link to the live webcast, as well as replays of the first-quarter webcast in both streaming and downloadable podcast formats following the event, will be available at www.williamslp.com. A limited number of phone lines will be available at (888) 298-3511. International callers should dial (719) 457-2604.

Definitions of Non-GAAP Financial Measures

This press release includes certain financial measures – distributable cash flow, cash distribution coverage ratio, fee-based revenues, and adjusted segment profit – that are non-GAAP financial measures as defined under the rules of the SEC.

For Williams Partners L.P., adjusted segment profit excludes items of income or loss that we characterize as unrepresentative of our ongoing operations. Management believes adjusted segment profit provides investors meaningful insight into Williams Partners L.P.'s results from ongoing operations.

For Williams Partners L.P. we define fee-based revenues as total revenues less commodity-based and tracked revenue. Such excluded items can be volatile due to changing market conditions, which are largely beyond our management’s control. Fee-based revenues provides investors with information about the growth of our revenues that are not subject to this volatility.

For Williams Partners L.P. we define distributable cash flow as net income plus depreciation and amortization and cash distributions from our equity investments less our earnings from our equity investments, distributions to noncontrolling interests and maintenance capital expenditures. We also adjust for payments and/or reimbursements under omnibus agreements with Williams and certain other items.

For Williams Partners L.P. we also calculate the ratio of distributable cash flow to the total cash distributed (cash distribution coverage ratio). This measure reflects the amount of distributable cash flow relative to our cash distribution. We have also provided this ratio calculated using the most directly comparable GAAP measure, net income.

This press release is accompanied by a reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures to their nearest GAAP financial measures. Management uses these financial measures because they are accepted financial indicators used by investors to compare company performance. In addition, management believes that these measures provide investors an enhanced perspective of the operating performance of the Partnership's assets and the cash that the business is generating. Neither fee-based revenues, adjusted segment profit nor distributable cash flow are intended to represent cash flows for the period, nor are they presented as an alternative to revenues, net income or cash flow from operations. They should not be considered in isolation or as substitutes for a measure of performance prepared in accordance with United States generally accepted accounting principles.

About Williams Partners L.P. (NYSE: WPZ)

Williams Partners L.P. is a leading diversified master limited partnership focused on natural gas transportation; gathering, treating, and processing; storage; natural gas liquid (NGL) fractionation; and oil transportation. The partnership owns interests in three major interstate natural gas pipelines that, combined, deliver 14 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States. The partnership’s gathering and processing assets include large-scale operations in the U.S. Rocky Mountains and both onshore and offshore along the Gulf of Mexico. Williams (NYSE: WMB) owns approximately 68 percent of Williams Partners, including the general-partner interest. More information is available at www.williamslp.com.

Williams Partners L.P. is a limited partnership formed by The Williams Companies, Inc. (Williams). Our reports, filings, and other public announcements may contain or incorporate by reference statements that do not directly or exclusively relate to historical facts. Such statements are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. You typically can identify forward-looking statements by various forms of words such as "anticipates," "believes," "seeks," "could," "may," "should," "continues," "estimates," "expects," "forecasts," "intends," "might," "goals," "objectives," "targets," "planned," "potential," "projects," "scheduled," "will," or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements are based on management's beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to management and include, among others, statements regarding:
  • Amounts and nature of future capital expenditures;
  • Expansion and growth of our business and operations;
  • Financial condition and liquidity;
  • Business strategy;
  • Cash flow from operations or results of operations;
  • The levels of cash distributions to unitholders;
  • Seasonality of certain business components; and
  • Natural gas, natural gas liquids, and crude oil prices and demand.

Forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions, uncertainties and risks that could cause future events or results to be materially different from those stated or implied in this announcement. Many of the factors that will determine these results are beyond our ability to control or predict. Specific factors that could cause actual results to differ from results contemplated by the forward-looking statements include, among others, the following:
  • Whether we have sufficient cash from operations to enable us to pay current and expected levels of cash distributions following establishment of cash reserves and payment of fees and expenses, including payments to our general partner;
  • Availability of supplies, market demand, volatility of prices, and the availability and cost of capital;
  • Inflation, interest rates and general economic conditions (including future disruptions and volatility in the global credit markets and the impact of these events on our customers and suppliers);
  • The strength and financial resources of our competitors;
  • Ability to acquire new businesses and assets and integrate those operations and assets into our existing businesses, as well as expand our facilities;
  • Development of alternative energy sources;
  • The impact of operational and development hazards;
  • Costs of, changes in, or the results of laws, government regulations (including safety and climate change regulation and changes in natural gas production from exploration and production areas that we serve), environmental liabilities, litigation and rate proceedings;
  • Our allocated costs for defined benefit pension plans and other postretirement benefit plans sponsored by our affiliates;
  • Changes in maintenance and construction costs;
  • Changes in the current geopolitical situation;
  • Our exposure to the credit risk of our customers and counterparties;
  • Risks related to strategy and financing, including restrictions stemming from our debt agreements, future changes in our credit ratings and the availability and cost of credit;
  • Risks associated with future weather conditions;
  • Acts of terrorism, including cybersecurity threats and related disruptions; and
  • Additional risks described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Given the uncertainties and risk factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement, we caution investors not to unduly rely on our forward-looking statements. We disclaim any obligations to and do not intend to update the above list or to announce publicly the result of any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements to reflect future events or developments.

In addition to causing our actual results to differ, the factors listed above may cause our intentions to change from those statements of intention set forth in this announcement. Such changes in our intentions may also cause our results to differ. We may change our intentions, at any time and without notice, based upon changes in such factors, our assumptions, or otherwise.

Limited partner interests are inherently different from the capital stock of a corporation, although many of the business risks to which we are subject are similar to those that would be faced by a corporation engaged in a similar business. Investors are urged to closely consider the disclosures and risk factors in our annual report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on February 28, 2012, and our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q available from our offices or from our website.
                     
Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Measures

(UNAUDITED)
 
 
2011 2012
(Dollars in millions, except coverage ratios)     1st Qtr   2nd Qtr   3rd Qtr   4th Qtr   Year 1st Qtr   2nd Qtr   Year
                                       
Williams Partners L.P.
Reconciliation of Non-GAAP "Distributable Cash Flow" to GAAP "Net income"
 
Net income $ 307 $ 338 $ 342 $ 391 $ 1,378 $ 348 $ 193 $ 541
Depreciation and amortization 150 154 155 152 611 156 168 324
Non-cash amortization of debt issuance costs included in interest expense 5 5 3 4 17 4 3 7
Equity earnings from investments (25 ) (36 ) (40 ) (41 ) (142 ) (30 ) (27 ) (57 )
Gain on sale of assets - - - - - - (6 ) (6 )
Acquisition and transition-related costs - - - - - - 19 19
Allocated reorganization-related costs - - - - - - 7 7
Net reimbursements (payments) from/(to) Williams under omnibus agreements 8 2 6 15 31 6 1 7
Maintenance capital expenditures   (34 )     (106 )     (148 )     (126 )     (414 )   (61 )     (111 )     (172 )
 
Distributable Cash Flow excluding equity investments 411 357 318 395 1,481 423 247 670
Plus: Equity investments cash distributions to Williams Partners L.P.   30       40       50       49       169     52       46       98  
 
Distributable Cash Flow $ 441     $ 397     $ 368     $ 444     $ 1,650   $ 475     $ 293     $ 768  
 
 
Total cash distributed: $ 276 $ 286 $ 294 $ 311 $ 1,167 $ 362 $ 373 $ 735
 
Coverage ratios:
Distributable Cash Flow divided by Total cash distributed   1.60       1.39       1.25       1.43       1.41     1.31       0.79       1.04  
 
Net income divided by Total cash distributed   1.11       1.18       1.16       1.26       1.18     0.96       0.52       0.74  

 
 
Reconciliation of GAAP "Segment Profit" to Non-GAAP "Adjusted Segment Profit"
(UNAUDITED)                    
 
2011 2012
(Dollars in millions)   1st Qtr   2nd Qtr   3rd Qtr   4th Qtr   Year 1st Qtr   2nd Qtr   Year
                                     
 
Gas Pipeline $ 175 $ 152 $ 170 $ 176 $ 673 $ 180 $ 147 $ 327
Midstream Gas & Liquids 262 319 301 341 1,223 308 192 500
                           
Segment Profit $ 437     $ 471   $ 471   $ 517   $ 1,896   $ 488   $ 339     $ 827  
 
Adjustments:

Gas Pipeline
Loss related to Eminence storage facility leak 4 3 6 2 15 1 - 1
Gain on sale of base gas from Hester storage field   (4 )     -     -     -     (4 )   -     -       -  
Total Gas Pipeline adjustments - 3 6 2 11 1 - 1

Midstream Gas & Liquids
Acquisition and transition-related costs - - - - - - 19 19
Gain on sale of certain assets   -       -     -     -     -     -     (6 )     (6 )
Total Midstream Gas & Liquids adjustments - - - - - - 13 13
 
Total adjustments included in segment profit - 3 6 2 11 1 13 14
                           
Adjusted segment profit $ 437     $ 474   $ 477   $ 519   $ 1,907   $ 489   $ 352     $ 841  
 
 
Williams Partners L.P.
                     
 
2012 Guidance 2013 Guidance 2014 Guidance
(Dollars in millions, except coverage ratios) Low   Midpoint   High Low   Midpoint   High Low   Midpoint   High
                                         
Reconciliation of Non-GAAP "Distributable Cash Flow" to GAAP "Net income"
 
Net income $ 1,060 $ 1,150 $ 1,240 $ 1,230 $ 1,420 $ 1,610 $ 1,500 $ 1,700 $ 1,900
Depreciation and amortization 725 745 765 790 810 830 860 880 900
Maintenance capital expenditures (405 ) (440 ) (475 ) (350 ) (385 ) (420 ) (350 ) (385 ) (420 )
Gain on sale of assets (6 ) (6 ) (6 ) - - - - - -
Acquisition and transition-related costs 24 24 24 - - - - - -
Allocated reorganization-related costs 7 7 7 - - - - - -
Other / Rounding   70       70       70     55       55       55     70       70       70  
 
Distributable cash flow $ 1,475     $ 1,550     $ 1,625   $ 1,725     $ 1,900     $ 2,075   $ 2,080     $ 2,265     $ 2,450  
 
Total cash to be distributed * $ 1,537 $ 1,553 $ 1,569 $ 1,790 $ 1,849 $ 1,908 $ 2,071 $ 2,157 $ 2,242
 
Coverage ratios:
 

Distributable cash flow divided by Total cash to be distributed *
  0.96       1.00       1.04     0.96       1.03       1.09     1.00       1.05       1.09  
 
Net income divided by Total cash to be distributed *   0.69       0.74       0.79     0.69       0.77       0.84     0.72       0.79       0.85  
 
* Distributions in 2012 reflect quarterly increases of $0.01 in the low case, $0.015 in the midpoint case and $0.02 in the high case over the 2Q distribution of $0.7925.

In 2013-2014 distributions reflect quarterly increases of $0.015 in the low case, $0.02 in the midpoint case, and $0.025 in the high case. Distributions are paid in the quarter following the period in which they are earned.

 
 
Reconciliation of Non-GAAP "Adjusted Segment Profit" to GAAP "Segment Profit"
 
Segment Profit:
Midstream $ 932 $ 1,007 $ 1,082 $ 1,100 $ 1,275 $ 1,450 $ 1,350 $ 1,550 $ 1,750
Gas Pipeline   679       699       719     700       725       750     775       800       825  
Total Segment Profit 1,611 1,706 1,801 1,800 2,000 2,200 2,125 2,350 2,575
Adjustments:
Midstream - Acquisition and transition-related costs 24 24 24 - - - - - -
Midstream - Gain on sale of certain assets (6 ) (6 ) (6 ) - - - - - -
Gas Pipeline - Loss related to Eminence storage facility leak   1       1       1     -       -       -     -       -       -  
Adjusted segment profit $ 1,630     $ 1,725     $ 1,820   $ 1,800     $ 2,000     $ 2,200   $ 2,125     $ 2,350     $ 2,575  
 
 
Non-GAAP Reconciliation of Fee Revenues to Total Segment Revenues
(UNAUDITED)
                   
 
2011 2012
(Dollars in millions)   1st Qtr   2nd Qtr   3rd Qtr   4th Qtr   Year 1st Qtr   2nd Qtr   Year
                                     
 
Gas Pipeline revenues:
Fee revenues $ 361 $ 359 $ 368 $ 384 $ 1,472 $ 384 $ 366 $ 750
Tracked revenues 50 48 61 42 201 38 33 $ 71
Other revenues   5       -       -       -       5     -       -       -  
Total Gas Pipeline revenues $ 416     $ 407     $ 429     $ 426     $ 1,678   $ 422     $ 399     $ 821  
 
Midstream Gas & Liquids revenues:
Fee revenues 217 230 249 248 944 258 274 $ 532
Commodity-based revenues 1,441 1,608 1,542 1,759 6,350 1,520 1,341 $ 2,861
Other/Elims   (495 )     (574 )     (547 )     (627 )     (2,243 )   (515 )     (431 )   $ (946 )
Total Midstream Gas & Liquids revenues $ 1,163     $ 1,264     $ 1,244     $ 1,380     $ 5,051   $ 1,263     $ 1,184     $ 2,447  

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