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ONEOK's Q1 earnings soar as MLP notches volume, fee gains

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ONEOK's Q1 earnings soar as MLP notches volume, fee gains

on May 3 reportedfirst-quarter net income attributable to the company of $83.4 million, or 40cents per share, compared to $60.8 million, or 29 cents per share, in theyear-ago quarter.

First-quarteradjusted EBITDA totaled $441.6 million, compared to $320.4 million in theyear-ago quarter, ONEOK said in its May 3 earnings release. Cash flow availablefor dividends in the first quarter was posted at $169.3 million, compared to$152.1 million in the prior-year period. The dividend coverage ratio improvedto 1.31x in the first quarter from 1.20x in the prior-year period.

Highervolumes and increased fee-based earnings at ONEOK Partners greatly contributedto the earnings growth at ONEOK, according to the earnings release.But despite the gains, ONEOK fell just short of Wall Street expectations. TheS&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate for the first quarter was42 cents as of 5:30 p.m. ET on May 3.

Operatingincome for the first quarter amounted to $311.4 million, compared to $196.5million in the same period of 2015.

"ONEOK'sfirst-quarter financial results benefited from ['s] uniquelypositioned, integrated network of natural gas and NGL assets," said TerrySpencer, president and CEO of ONEOK. "Distributions declared from thepartnership to ONEOK increased nearly 17 percent in the first quarter 2016,compared with 2015, driven by ONEOK's increased ownership in ONEOK Partners."

Distributionsdeclared from ONEOK Partners were reported at $197.5 million, compared to$169.1 million in the year-ago quarter.

In aseparate earnings release, ONEOK Partners reported first-quarter net incomeattributable to the partnership of $253.5 million, or 52 cents per unit,compared to $145.6 million, or 21 cents per unit, in the corresponding periodof 2015. The S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate for the firstquarter was 49 cents, as of 5:30 p.m. ET on May 3.

AdjustedEBITDA for the first quarter amounted to $444.6 million, compared to $324.3million in the year-ago quarter. First-quarter distributable cash flow totaled$347.6 million, compared to $217.2 million in the prior-year period. ONEOKPartners' distribution coverage ratio for the first quarter was 1.06x, comparedto 0.60x in the same period of 2015.

ONEOKPartners attributed the earnings growth in part to higher fee-based liquidsvolumes from recently connected processing plants in the and Midcontinent andhigher fee rates from reworked gathering contracts.

"Thepartnership's completion of key growth projects, cost reductions, prudentfinancial decisions, proactive contract restructuring efforts and growingfee-based earnings created additional investor value and resulted in progresstowards deleveraging the business and achieving an expected annual GAAPdebt-to-EBITDA ratio of 4.2 times or less by late 2016," Spencer said.