Still Buy Williams Cos. after Upbeat Earnings Forecast

S&P also reiterates hold rating on General Electric, despite recent price drop

Williams Cos. (WMB ): Reiterate 5 STARS (buy)

Analyst: Ephraim Juskowicz

WMB says '01 EPS will meet or exceed consensus for consolidated, energy-only results... Trading division benefiting from arbitrage opportunities associated with having large asset base... Processing and storage benefiting from increased exploration activity amid high commodity prices.. Upping slightly our energy-only '01 EPS est. from $1.72 to $1.75... Stripping out market value of Communications segment, to be spun off by mid-'01, energy trading PE/growth just 1.1X vs. peer average 1.8X... Using conservative 1.3X, stock worth $44.50.

General Electric (GE ): Reiterate 3 STARS (hold)

Analyst: Robert Friedman

Stock still no bargain despite 3-month, 25% price drop... Continue to have serious questions about EPS quality... Besides 10%+ of EPS from $25 bil. overfunded pension plan, think GE's decision to take $4 bil. pretax Honeywell charge in '01 will further cloud true GE operating income power... Also, expect $1 bil. pretax gain from sale of PaineWebber stock to offset almost $1 bil. of pretax charges from GE Capital's ownership of bankrupt Montgomery Ward... GE/HON merger pact boosts GE's risk profile... Cash flow models indicate GE at low end of fair value range.

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