CALGARY – Pipeline giant TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) reported higher third-quarter profits on Tuesday, thanks to strength in its power business and higher returns from its Canadian natural gas mainline.
Comparable earnings were up sharply at $447 million, or 63 cents per share — besting the average analyst estimate of 59 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters. A year earlier, comparable earnings were $349 million, or 50 cents per share.
“We generated another strong quarter of earnings and cash flow from our portfolio of critical energy infrastructure assets, despite challenges in U.S. natural gas pipelines and cyclical lows in our gas storage business,” said CEO Russ Girling.
The boost to the bottom line “reflects the return to an eight-unit site at Bruce Power, higher Alberta power prices, an increase in New York capacity prices and a higher Canadian Mainline allowed return on equity,” he said.
The earnings attributable to shareholders amounted to 68 cents per share, up from 52 cents per share last year. Revenue was $2.2 billion, up from $2.1 billion.
TransCanada’s Board of Directors also declared a quarterly dividend of 46 cents per common share for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2013, or $1.84 per common share on an annualized basis.
TransCanada aims to file a regulatory application in the first half of 2014 for its $12-billion Energy East pipeline, which would ship up to 1.1 million barrels of western crude to refineries and export terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick.
The company is also awaiting final U.S. government approval on its controversial US$5.4-billion Keystone XL proposal, which would connect Alberta crude with U.S. refineries. TransCanada filed its application more than five years ago and hopes a decision will come soon.
Keystone XL has become a major political football in the United States. Some argue the pipeline would reduce U.S. reliance on crude imports from unfriendly regimes and give a much needed economic boost, while others argue the environmental risks are too high.
A US$2.3-billion line to connect Cushing, Okla., to the U.S. Gulf Coast is 95 per cent complete, with crude expected to arrive at Port Arthur, Texas, refineries by year-end. That pipeline was part of an earlier iteration of Keystone XL, which was previously rejected by the Obama administration.