Markets & Finance

Prudential Upgrades Williams Cos. to 'Buy'

Williams Cos. (WMB) shares rose after Prudential upgrades to buy from hold. On Tuesday, the company posted first-quarter EPS of 4 cents.

Analyst M. Carol Coale says although the company's EPS was not spectacular, she became aware during the conference call of certain near and long term catalytic events that could move the stock price higher. She notes that in the near term, the refinancing of a high-cost $900 million note should be completed within 60 days.

And in the long term, Coale believes the company can generate 92 cents in "normalized" annual EPS from its core pipeline, production, and processing businesses after restructuring initiatives are completed in 2004. She raised her EPS estimates to 24 cents in 2003 and to 37 cents in 2004. She also hiked her price target on the stock to $10.

Steve Ballmer, Power Forward

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