AP News

Sector Snap: Coal

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of coal companies got a boost Monday after Peabody Energy Corp. reported a steep drop in third-quarter profit, but said that there are signs that the global coal market is stabilizing.

St. Louis-based Peabody, the world's biggest private-sector coal company, said its profit for the recent quarter tumbled 84 percent to $42.9 million, or 16 cents per share. Its income from continuing operations totaled 46 cents per share, which was better than Wall Street predictions of 34 cents per share.

Revenue totaled $2.06 billion, beating Wall Street predictions of $1.96 billion.

The company also issued a better-than-expected profit prediction for the full year and said it had identified an additional $100 million in annual cost savings.

Coal makers have struggled for much of this year in the face of competition from cheaper natural gas and a drop in coal pricing. But over the past three months, natural gas prices have increased, leading to greater demand for coal, Peabody said.

The company projected that U.S. coal demand will decline about 120 million tons this year, but said the vast majority of that dropoff already has taken place.

In afternoon trading, Peabody shares rose $2.46, or 9.5 percent, to $28.35, after peaking at $29.71 earlier in the day. Over the past 52 weeks, the company's shares have traded between $18.78 and $47.81.

Meanwhile, shares of Arch Coal Inc. rose 30 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $8.21; Alpha Natural Resources Inc. rose 36 cents, or 4 percent, to $9.33; Consol Energy Inc. added 94 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $36.15; and James River Coal Co. rose 29 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $5.29.

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