* To slow spending on new production in 2011
* Shares slide near 3 pct in early trading
* New estimates below Street view (Rewrites, changes dateline to HOUSTON, updates share price)
HOUSTON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Natural gas producer and pipeline company Williams Companies Inc (WMB.N) cut its profit forecasts for this year and next, citing weak prices, and its shares fell nearly 3 percent.
Williams, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will also pare spending on new wells next year, a move that energy analysts say is likely to be followed by other natural gas producers in the coming months.
Shares of Williams fell 2.8 percent to $18.56 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
“We are adjusting our outlook and earnings guidance to reflect the current state of the economy and commodity markets,” Steve Malcolm, Williams’ chief executive officer, said in a statement, citing lower expected natural gas and natural gas liquids margins.
Hefty supplies of natural gas in the United States have kept a lid on prices, while a shaky economic recovery has checked industrial demand for the fuel.
Williams said it now expected 2010 adjusted earnings per share between $1.00 and $1.20, versus its July forecast of 1.00 to $1.45 per share. Earnings for 2011 were now expected to be between 85 cents and $1.65, down from the $1.15 to $2.50 it had forecast in July.
Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S on average expected Williams to report a profit of $1.29 per share in 2010 and $1.48 in 2011.
Capital expenditures for 2011 would drop to between $2.08 billion to $3.2 billion versus the $2.4 billion to $3.7 billion it had said two months ago it would spend.
Additional reporting by Matt Daily in New York, editing by Dave Zimmerman