January 20, 2016 / 9:29 PM / 2 years ago

Kinder Morgan swings to loss on $1.15 billion charge

The entrance for the Kinder Morgan Tank Farm is pictured in Burnaby, British Columbia, October 6, 2014.Ben Nelms

(Reuters) - U.S. pipeline company Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI.N) swung to a fourth-quarter loss after a $1.15 billion writedown on natural gas assets, and said weak commodity and stock markets could bring more trouble.

"Let me give you this warning, if commodity and equity prices continue to fall, then we may have impairments in future quarters," Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Allen Dang told analysts on a quarterly earnings call on Wednesday.

Kinder Morgan, the largest energy infrastructure company in North America, cut its 2016 capital budget to $3.3 billion from its previous estimate of $4.2 billion, based on West Texas Intermediate crude oil trading at $38 per barrel.

U.S. crude CLc1 for February delivery, which expired on Wednesday, fell 6.7 percent to settle at $26.55, under $27 a barrel for the first time since 2003. [O/R]

Kinder Morgan, which also disclosed a $285 million writedown mainly in its carbon dioxide segment, said it does not expect to access the capital markets to fund growth projects in 2016.

The Houston-based company, once resilient in the face of falling oil prices, last month cut its dividend, by 75 percent, for the first time since going public to maintain cash.

President and Chief Executive Steven Kean said the company shaved its capital budget largely by dropping acquisitions, which he did not identify, cutting costs and lowering carbon dioxide spending.

The company also delayed completion of $5.4 billion Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion by a year, to the third quarter of 2019, as it awaited regulatory approval. The capacity expansion, to 890,000 bpd from 300,000 bpd, has met fierce environmental and aboriginal opposition.

One shareholder on the conference call raised concerns about continued capital spending. "Now there's the fear that the dividend isn't even secure," he said.

"I'm the largest shareholder," Chairman Rich Kinder responded, noting that the company would use cash flow as it saw best given volatile market conditions. "I want to see all kinds of value derived by the common shareholders of this company."

Kinder Morgan posted a net loss of $637 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $126 million a year earlier.

Excluding items, profit fell to $491 million from $664 million. Revenue dropped 8 percent to $3.63 billion.

Kinder Morgan shares hit a record low of $11.20 on Wednesday, before trading down 2.6 percent at $11.70 after hours.

Reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston and Anet Josline Pinto in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian and Richard Chang

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