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Ahead of Bell: Williams Cos., Williams Partners

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Credit Suisse analyst started coverage of Williams Cos. with an "Outperform" rating, saying the energy infrastructure company is well positioned for future growth.

Brett Reilly said in a client note that the company's "large-scale franchise assets are ideally positioned to connect growing supplies of natural gas and natural gas liquids to areas of growing demand for the next decade."

The analyst said that Williams also benefits from an experienced management team and well-capitalized balance sheet.

Reilly set a $49 price target. Williams Cos. finished at $37.46 per share on Thursday. The stock market was closed Friday for Good Friday.

Williams Cos., which is based in Tulsa, Okla., owns interests in or runs about 15,000 miles of interstate gas pipelines, approximately 1,000 miles of natural gas liquids transportation pipelines and more than 10,000 miles of oil and gas gathering pipelines.

Reilly also began coverage of Williams Partners LP — a business segment of Williams Cos. — with an "Outperform" rating and $55 price target. Its shares finished at $51.80 on Thursday.

In a separate client note, the analyst said that he is confident in the gas pipeline operator's long-term distribution growth. While Reilly believes the company may need to modestly revise its distribution growth forecast for 2013/2014, he says its decade of fee-based growth is too much to ignore.

A message was left for a representative for Williams Cos. and Williams Partners before business hours.