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Williams Ups Q4 Div, Outlook Retained

Zacks Equity Research

North American energy firm, Williams Companies Inc. (WMB) recently declared its fourth-quarter common stock dividend of 38 cents per share ($1.52 per share annualized), representing a year-over-year increase of 16.9% and a sequential hike of 3.8%. The increased dividend will be paid on Dec 30, 2013 to shareholders of record as of Dec 13, 2013.

Following the latest boost, dividend for full year 2013 stood at $1.44 per share, reflecting a hike of 20.0% compared with $1.20 reported in 2012.

The dividend hike reflects consistently strong performance by Williams, solid operating results, lucrative investments and successful execution of its strategic plan. Based on the closing price of $34.91 as of Nov 21, 2013, the expected annual dividend of $1.52 affirms a yield of 4.4%.

Additionally, Williams maintains its projected 20% dividend hike to $1.75 and $2.11 per share, for 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Tulsa, OK-based Williams is a premier energy infrastructure provider in North America. The company’s core operations include finding, producing, gathering, processing, and transportation of natural gas. Williams divides its business into four segments: Williams Partners, Williams NGL & Petchem Services, Access Midstream Partners, and Other.

Williams currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that it is expected to perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.

Meanwhile, one can look at better-ranked players in the oil production and pipeline sector like Western Gas Partners LP (WES), EQT Midstream Partners LP (EQM) and Spectra Energy Corp (SE) that offer value. Western Gas sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) while EQT Midstream and Spectra Energy retain a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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