CALGARY – TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) has reported increased first-quarter profit and revenue but its comparable earnings came in short of analyst estimates.
The Calgary-based pipeline and power company’s says its comparable earnings were $370 million or 52 cents per share — two cents per share below a consensus estimate but up from $363 million a year earlier.
Its net income attributable to shareholders was $446 million, or 63 cents per share, up from 50 cents per share or $352 million in the first quarter of 2012.
TransCanada said the quarter’s net income included $104 million related to a National Energy Board ruling, of which $84 million relates to last year and therefore excluded from its comparable earnings.
Revenue was $2.25 billion, up from $1.9 billion in the first quarter of 2012.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were on average expecting earnings per share of 54 cents and revenues of $2.1 billion.
TransCanada is seeking U.S. government approval to build its US$5.3-billion Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would ship some 830,000 barrels per day of mostly oilsands crude to U.S. markets.
The company said Friday it current expects the Keystone XL will be in service inthe second half of 2015.
The Obama administration rejected an earlier iteration of the project last year because of environmental concerns in Nebraska.
The company responded by breaking up the project into two parts. Construction on the southern leg between Oklahoma and the U.S. Gulf Coast is expected to be complete later this year.
The U.S. State Department is weighing whether to award a permit for the more contentious northern part, which includes a reworked route through Nebraska to avoid sensitive ecosystems and water sources.
It issued a draft environmental report earlier last month that flagged no major concerns with the project. A final decision is expected some time later this year.
Critics have scoffed at the reroute, saying it still poses a threat to the Ogallala aquifer and Sand Hills region. Some groups say the pipeline will enable major growth in the oilsands, which they say is a dirty source of crude that is a major contributor to climate change.
TransCanada has been sticking to its late 2014 or early 2015 start up target, though the later in the year a decision is announced, the harder it will be to meet that schedule.
Meanwhile, the company has been looking to ship crude to eastern Canadian refineries by converting part of its underused natural gas mainline to oil service.
New pipe would need to built between Quebec and Saint John, N.B., which is home to the huge Irving Oil refinery. Saint John is also home to a big deepwater port, from which crude can be exported via tanker.
Though TransCanada’s oil projects have been grabbing the most headlines lately, its core business involves shipping natural gas through its vast continental network. It also has several power generation assets.