TransCanada profit up, sees Keystone XL approval

Tue Nov 1, 2011 10:48am EDT
 
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp's (TRP.TO: Quote) quarterly operating profit rose 1.8 percent on higher electricity prices in Western Canada, the country's largest pipeline and power generation company said on Tuesday.

TransCanada, which is waiting for U.S. government approval for its $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline plan, said third-quarter net income rose to C$384 million ($376 million), or 55 Canadian cents a share, from C$377 million, or 54 Canadian cents a share, in the year-before quarter.

The company's Keystone XL proposal, the linchpin of its growth plans, would ship 700,000 barrels a day of oil sands-derived crude from northern Alberta to Texas refineries.

Even though it has the support of many U.S. lawmakers who seek job creation and energy security, the proposal has met with tough resistance from environmentalists, who warn of higher risks of oil spills in sensitive regions in the United States.

TransCanada said it still expects the project to be approved by the U.S. State Department by yearend despite the opposition and that it could have the line in service by 2013.

Excluding unusual items, the company's comparable quarterly earnings were C$417 million, or 59 Canadian cents a share, up 12 percent from C$374 million, or 54 Canadian cents a share. That beat the average estimate among analysts of 57 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 12 percent to C$2.39 billion from C$2.13 billion.

TransCanada said its results were bolstered by new pipelines, including the first phase of its Keystone system, and higher power prices in the Alberta market.

"We noted strong performance from the Western and Eastern Power (Canadian) segments," Chad Friess, an analyst at UBS Securities Canada. "This strength was partly offset by lower results in U.S. Power"

TransCanada shares were down 2.5 percent at C$41.92 at midmorning on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The exchange's benchmark index was 2.1 percent lower due to European debt worries.

($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Haggett in Calgary and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bangalore; editing by Peter Galloway)