Enron: Businesses Performing 'Extremely Well'
Responding to persistent rumors over the Thanksgiving weekend of
a possible profit warning, Enron COO Jeffrey Skilling has denied
problems with earnings for any of the myriad energy and
communications businesses for North America's largest buyer and
seller of natural gas and electricity. Enron's stock did fall last
week, however, as did other energy stocks.
"All of our businesses are performing extremely well and we are
very comfortable with consensus analyst earnings estimates of $0.35
per share in the fourth quarter of 2000, and $1.65 for the full
year 2001," said Skilling in a prepared statement. First
Call/Thomson Financial analysts had forecast earnings per share of
$.03 in the fourth quarter and $1.66 in 2001.
The day before Thanksgiving, Enron spokesman Mark Palmer said
that the company decided to uncharacteristically respond to rumors
after hearing "persistent" talk that the company was going to "put
out a profit warning." Palmer said he did not know how the rumor
started. He said the rumor did not start in Internet chat rooms,
but rather, the company began getting telephone calls from
"We've never said anything but that we're comfortable with
analysts' expectations," Palmer said.
CEO Ken Lay said recently that he was aware of criticism that
the Houston-based company appeared to lack any focus because it was
moving in so many directions. He called the concern "legitimate,"
and said "it's something we talk about internally. We need to be
careful we don't take on too many new markets at one time. We need
to prove that we can do what we say we're going to do," such as the
In the Internet chat rooms, Enron shareholders seemed delighted
with the rise and short-term fall of the stock, with one sharing
the news that he had traded in some of his child's college fund to
obtain more Enron shares while the price was lower. Some
shareholders said they expected the fourth quarter earnings to rise
even higher, then fall back in 2001.
Carolyn Davis, Houston
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