VANCOUVER, BC, Feb. 13, 2002 — Westcoast Energy Inc. announced record net income applicable to common shares for the year ended December 31, 2001 of $526 million, compared with $340 million for 2000, an increase of 55%.
Following strong third quarter earnings, earnings per common share were $1.32 and $1.09 for the three months ended December 31, 2001 and December 31, 2000, respectively. The fourth quarter results in 2001 were favourably impacted by the gain on the sale of Westcoast Capital and Union Energy, and the solid performance from Engage Energy, which capitalized on the volatility in the North American natural gas and electric markets.
Fourth quarter 2001 results were adversely impacted by significantly warmer than normal weather, compared with the colder than normal weather experienced in the fourth quarter of 2000. Adjusting for weather, the corporate income tax rate reductions in the fourth quarter of 2000, the gain on the sale of Westcoast Capital and Union Energy and the costs related to the acquisition of the Company by Duke Energy, normalized earnings per common share for the three months ended December 31, 2001 and 2000 were $1.29 and $0.78, respectively.
For the full twelve months, earnings per common share were $4.26 in 2001, compared with $2.92 in 2000. Weather normalized earnings per common share were $4.44 and $2.96 for 2001 and 2000, respectively. Included in the 2001 earnings is the gain on the sale of the Company’s interests in two Canadian power generating facilities, Westcoast Capital and Union Energy, and the costs related to the acquisition of the Company by Duke Energy. Results for 2001 and 2000 include the impact of corporate income tax rate reductions. Adjusting for these items results in earnings per common share of $3.38 in 2001, compared with $2.56 for 2000, an increase of 32%.
“This past year has been an outstanding one for Westcoast Energy and for its shareholders,” said Michael Phelps, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Our growth strategy of the past few years is now being reflected in solid increases in earnings year over year.”
“We have built a company that has rewarded shareholders with a steady stream of dividends and increased share valuation; this is the direct result of a strategy that has been implemented by a superb team of employees,” said Phelps. “It is fitting that we can conclude Westcoast’s public trading on both an outstanding record of financial performance and the overwhelming 96% vote of our shareholders to endorse the Board of Directors’ recommendation in favour of the acquisition by Duke Energy.”
Phelps added: “Westcoast shareholders should take pride in a five-year compound annual growth rate in earnings per share of 16.8%. Adjusting for major divestitures and normalizing for weather yields a five-year earnings per share growth rate of 13.6%. By either calculation, this growth rate is noteworthy, especially as it is accompanied by a total shareholder return for 2001 of 20.3%, compared with The Toronto Stock Exchange Pipeline Sector’s figure of 14.5%.”
The Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.34 per common share payable on March 31, 2002, to shareholders of record on February 28, 2002.
Duke Energy plans to greatly expand its position in the North American natural gas marketplace by acquiring Westcoast in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately US$8.5 billion, including debt assumed.
It is expected that the transaction will close in the first quarter of 2002.
Westcoast Energy Inc., headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a North American energy company with assets of approximately $14 billion. The Company’s interests include natural gas gathering, processing, transmission, storage and distribution, as well as power generation, international energy businesses, and financial, information technology and energy services businesses. More information is available on the Company’s Web site at www.westcoastenergy.com