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Salomon Cuts Outlook on Williams Cos.

Salomon Smith Barney lowered its estimates and target on Williams Cos. (WMB).

Analyst Raymond Niles says the company's $0.46 fourth quarter operating EPS estimate is ahead of his $0.35 estimate. He notes the results excluded a $96M charge for Enron exposure. He views Williams' delayed EPS release as a negative. The company is postponing its earnings until it quantifies the effect of the spinoff of Williams Communications Group. It appears Williams Communications made little progress in terms of restructuring their contingent obligations. Were Williams to convert all Williams Communications off-balance sheet obligations into equity, Niles sees, as the worst-case scenario, a 23% dilution to 2002 EPS. Assuming 50% probability of full-share issuance, Nelson cut the 2002 EPS estimate to $2.35, and trimmed the $35 target to $23.

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