TransCanada Profit Beats Estimates, Boosts Dividend


Feb 13 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp, Canada's second-largest pipeline company, reported on Friday a better-than-expected fourth quarter profit, driven mainly by increased earnings from its Canadian operations.

The Calgary-based company also boosted its quarterly dividend by 8 percent to 52 Canadian cents per share, up from 48 Canadian cents in the last four quarters. Shares were down 0.26 percent at C$58.35 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Comparable earnings from TransCanada's cross-country Canadian Mainline pipeline, which carries natural gas from Empress, Alberta to Ontario, jumped 30 percent to C$396 million ($317.5 mln) in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

Comparable earnings from its Keystone pipeline system jumped 47 percent to C$294 million, buoyed in part by the first year of oil shipments on the Gulf Coast extension, which is the southern leg of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

TransCanada has been awaiting a U.S. presidential permit for the $8 billion Keystone XL project for more that six years. The pipeline, which would carry Alberta crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast, is fiercely opposed by environmental groups, who worry it would help hasten the development of the oil sands.

TransCanada got final passage from the Republican-led U.S. Congress earlier this week on a bill to approve Keystone XL. The bill next goes to President Barack Obama, who has vowed to veto it.

The company also said it expects its C$600 million Upland project to be in service by 2018. The pipeline, announced last year, would carry crude from North Dakota to Saskatchewan, where it would connect with the proposed Energy East pipeline.

Net income attributable to shareholders was C$458 million, or 65 Canadian cents, in the fourth quarter. That compared with C$420 million, or 59 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Adjusted to remove one-time items, TransCanada earned 72 Canadian cents per share, above the average analyst estimate of 61 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company said revenue rose 12 percent to C$2.62 billion.

($1 = 1.2474 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver and Sneha Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Meredith Mazzilli)


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