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Transportation regulators from both Canada and the United States met in November to discuss potential restrictions on Air Canada after two night-time incidents in California.Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

When Enbridge Inc. releases earnings Friday, you can bet it'll be weighing its words carefully.

After all, the pipeline giant likely wants to avoid the drama around its third-quarter results released in November. The company beat expectations for the quarter, but it failed to talk about its previously announced plans to maintain a double-digit annual dividend hike, instead saying they'd offer an update later. Investors fled, and the company twisted in the wind for weeks until it said, yes, the dividend story remained, and the shares jumped.

Unfortunately, Enbridge's rebound didn't stick, as Moody's Investors Service downgraded the company's debt in late December to just one notch above junk, keeping concerns about the company's debt and cash flow at the top of investors' minds. It has more than $60-billion in debt and has spent heavily on capital expenditures while also raising the dividend payment. The shares hit a 52-week low last week.

As trading wound down Thursday, Reuters reported the company plans to sell assets worth $8-billion, well more than the $3-billion divestiture target it previously announced. The wire service, citing people familiar with the situation, said the company is feeling pressure from ratings agencies and investors. It was unclear whether Enbridge planned to include any asset-sale announcement in Friday's earnings.

With all that as backdrop, Enbridge's quarterly numbers may be secondary. But the last thing the company needs is a miss. Analysts expect $10.6-billion in revenue and 55 cents in earnings per share for the fourth quarter according to Thomson Reuters' Eikon.

Friday may be more pleasant for Air Canada. While the shares are off their 52-week high, they've nearly doubled from levels a year ago. The stock was up nearly 5 per cent Thursday in anticipation of its before-market report.

Analyst Chris Murray of AltaCorp Capital expects the fourth-quarter results to continue the trend of year-over-year growth in yield (the average fare per passenger, per mile) and continued reductions in capacity. Air Canada should maintain the 2018 guidance introduced at its recent investor day, with possible improvements in certain metrics, he says. He's also looking for an update on progress on the company's transition to its new loyalty program, as it decouples from current partner Aimia Inc.

Consensus estimates for Air Canada's fourth quarter are for $3.745-billion in revenue and 15 cents of earnings per share according to Eikon.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is neither widely held by retail investors nor heavily traded following its earnings, but many like to learn the latest about what legendary Canadian investor Prem Watsa is doing. The insurance/investing firm said earlier this month it will buy parts of Carillion Canada Holdings Inc. Fairfax gets facilities-management businesses that operate airports, commercial and retail properties, defence facilities, health-care facilities and oil, gas and mining properties.

Fairfax closed Thursday at $629, almost the midpoint of its 52-week highs and lows. The shares are down slightly so far in 2018. After the bell Thursday, it reported net earnings per share of $30.87, which was below analysts views, according to Reuters, of $31.20.

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