TransCanada quarterly profit up 39%

Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.'s shares rose on the Toronto Stock Exchange Friday after the energy company reported a 39-per cent increase in first-quarter profit.
Rail cars in Milton, N.D., carrying pipe for TransCanada's Keystone pipeline project are shown in 2008. Keystone added $99 million to the firm’s first quarter profits. Eric Hylden/ Grand Forks Herald/Associated Press (Eric Hylden/ Grand Forks Herald/Associated Press)

Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.'s shares rose on the Toronto Stock Exchange Friday after the energy company reported a 39- per cent increase in first-quarter profit.

Its stock closed up 36 cents at $40.71.

Net income was $465 million, or 59 cents per share, compared with $334 million, or 43 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Profits rose as the first phase of its Keystone pipeline and other projects began to add to revenues.

Comparable earnings, which TransCanada said more accurately depicts its performance, were 30 per cent higher at $425 million, or 61 cents per share. Revenue increased to $2.24 billion from $1.96 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were on average expecting earnings of 58 cents per share and revenue of nearly $2.2 billion.

Keystone kicks in

Keystone, which currently delivers Canadian crude oil to markets in the U.S. Midwest and Oklahoma, contributed $99 million in earnings.

"For the remainder of 2011 we had expected quarterly (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $140-$150 million from Keystone, which now appears slightly conservative," UBS Investment Research analyst Chad Friess wrote in a note to clients.

TransCanada is awaiting a U.S. State Department decision on a massive expansion to the Keystone system, called Keystone XL. The $7-billion US project would increase capacity by 500,000 barrels per day and extend the line to the lucrative U.S. Gulf Coast market.

Keystone XL faces fierce opposition from environmental groups in the United States, who say it would increase that country's dependence on "dirty" oilsands crude. There are also concerns a spill could harm key drinking water sources.

The State Department published a supplemental environmental impact statement earlier this month after environmentalists attacked an earlier draft of the document for not being thorough enough.

The most recent assessment found Keystone doesn't pose any major environmental risk. The department expects to make its final decision late this year.

With files from The Canadian Press