Macquarie sees positive signs for coal stocks, Nomura remains skeptical

|By:, SA News Editor

Coal stocks have been creeping higher during the last few months, but opinions differ on whether the sector is turning around.

Macquarie analysts see positive signs for coal stocks, with utilities and rails believing coal is still available and being delivered while coal producers note higher demand and order books which are close to full; the firm calls Consol Energy (CNX) its top pick, and give Outperform ratings to Cloud Peak Energy (CLD) - an opportunity to buy a well positioned PRB pure play heading into the summer - and Peabody Energy (BTU) - where cash flows from its Powder River Basin operations can support depressed met coal operations.

But Nomura's Curt Woodworth thinks the market has been too optimistic about a potential Powder River price spike, and sees further downside risks to BTU and Arch Coal (ACI).