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Earnings Preview: Cheniere Energy

When it comes to midstream companies, Cheniere Energy (NYSEMKT: LNG  ) is a bird of a different feather. It has minimal assets where others have tens of thousands of miles of pipeline. However, investors have been intent on tracking Cheniere's progress as it develops the first liquefied natural gas, or LNG, export terminal in the continental U.S. Here are three things to watch for when Cheniere reports third-quarter earnings.

1. Progress
In August, Cheniere's master limited partnership, Cheniere Energy Partners (NYSEMKT: CQP  ) issued its "Notice to Proceed" to Bechtel to construct its first two liquefaction trains at its Sabine Pass facility. This is, essentially, what everyone has been waiting for. Cheniere has lined up customers, BG (NYSE: BG  ) and Gas Natural Fenosa, to support the LNG exports from these trains. If everything stays on schedule, shipments will begin in 2015. Look for more details on this project, and the newer Corpus Christi liquefaction facility, in the third-quarter report.

2. Costs
Costs were way up in the second quarter, particularly due to operating and development expenses for its LNG terminal and pipelines. The development expenses were associated with the LNG terminal and are not going away, but the operating expenses were primarily due to planned pipeline maintenance, so look for those to return to normal levels.

3. Revenue
Cheniere's stock price has soared 85% so far this year, but it's certainly not because the company is making more money. It has enormous potential, and the aforementioned progress at its Sabine Pass facility is likely driving that increase, but Cheniere's revenue is way down year over year.

Marketing and trading revenue was way down compared to 2011, for a loss of over $1.3 million through the first six months of the year. Oil and gas sales were also down, from $1.6 million for the first half of 2011 to $814,000 in 2012. Overall revenue was down by about $10 million in the second quarter, and the third-quarter figures to be as grim.

Foolish bottom line
Analysts aren't expecting earnings, but a loss of about $0.27 per share and revenue of $68.35 million. Last quarter, analysts anticipated a loss of $0.19 per share, far more positive than the actual loss $0.34. Cheniere does not schedule its earnings releases; your best bet for complete earnings coverage is to click here to add Cheniere Energy to My Watchlist.

Fool contributor Aimee Duffy has no positions in the stocks mentioned above.

The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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