Bloomberg News

QR National Slumps on Lower Profit Forecast: Sydney Mover

March 23, 2012

A QR National coal freight train makes its way back to a coal mine after dropping off a delivery for shipment, in Maitland, Australia. Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

A QR National coal freight train makes its way back to a coal mine after dropping off a delivery for shipment, in Maitland, Australia. Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

QR National Ltd. (QRN), Australia’s largest coal-train operator, fell the most in three months in Sydney trading after cutting its profit forecast.

QR National dropped 3.1 percent to A$3.77 at the close, the biggest decline since Dec. 19.

Earnings before interest and taxes in the year ending June will be between A$540 million ($561 million) and A$580 million, the company said today. Brisbane-based QR National said last month that EBIT would meet the A$578 million forecast in the prospectus for its November 2010 initial public offering.

The company blamed strikes by miners at BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP)’s coking coal pits in its home state of Queensland, lower-than- expected demand for transport, and rain this month that closed some parts of its rail network for the reduced earnings.

While coal volumes have improved in 2012, “week-to-week customer tonnages remain volatile,” QR National said in a statement. “With several months remaining however, it is difficult to predict impact with precision.”

BHP Billiton’s coking-coal miners in Australia extended strikes over job security and accommodation conditions on Feb. 25. About 3,000 workers at seven operations in Queensland owned by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, the world’s biggest exporter of steelmaking coal, stopped work for a week from Feb. 15 to Feb. 22. That action added to rolling strikes since June.

The strike action “has caused significant tonnage losses,” QR National said in its statement. Further strikes will force the company to discuss “mitigating actions” with employees and their unions, the rail operator said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angus Whitley in Sydney at awhitley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net


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