Today, 3:39 PM
- Coal stocks (KOL -4.4%) are surrendering large chunks of their recent gains, as might be expected, but J.P. Morgan analysts think coal's share of the U.S. power market might have hit its low point, seeing grid inflexibility making a reduction in coal’s share below ~30% difficult without more investment in the grid, pipelines and more gas power plants.
- The JPM team thinks it is reasonable to assume that once the U.S. gas market begins to balance and the gas price picks up, coal’s market share will recover to the mid or even high 30s prior to the introduction of the greenhouse gas rule, assuming the rule overcomes its many legal challenges.
- Meanwhile, the firm cuts its 2016 EPS estimate on Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP -1.7%) to $0.83 from $0.89, and imitates a 2016 estimate on Peabody Energy (BTU -17.98%) for a loss of $0.37, Arch Coal (ACI -28.9%) for a loss of $6.78, and Cloud Peak Energy (CLD -22.1%) for a loss of $0.21.
Yesterday, 11:36 AM
- Coal companies (NYSEARCA:KOL) continue their apparent short-covering rally, even as J.P. Morgan cuts its coal price forecasts, expecting excess production capacity built in recent years to keep downward pressure on prices in a mirror image of the late 2000s when capacity shortages drove prices higher.
- Even where capacity is forced to pause, much of it could be brought back quickly, which is acting as an overhang, the firm says.
- Arch Coal (ACI +19%) leads the gainers after extending its debt exchange through Sept. 23; the swaps originally had been scheduled to expire on Aug. 14 and then were extended through last Aug. 28.
- Also: BTU +8.8%, CLD +6.4%, WLB +3.1%.
Thu, Aug. 20, 2:54 PM
- Soros Fund Management disclosed minuscule (for Soros) stakes in Peabody Energy (BTU +24.6%) and Arch Coal (ACI +42.1%) at the end of last week. Combined, the Peabody holding of 1.03M shares and Arch holding of 533K shares amounted to less than $2.5M versus AUM north of $20B.
- The tiny stakes in the two near-bankrupt coal producers could be thought of as a lottery ticket, or maybe it's just The Palindrome - well known for railing against coal as it pertains to climate change - tweaking his political enemies.
- The stocks of both companies didn't do a whole lot for two sessions after the disclosure, but soared yesterday as Arch Coal was reported on working out a debt swap compromise with its creditors.
- News China could be producing a whole lot less in the way of carbon emissions than previously thought could be sending the two flying higher again today.
- CLD +3.9%, WLB +1.4%, RNO -2.15%, CNX -0.8%, KOL flat
Fri, Jul. 10, 4:11 PM
Tue, Jun. 30, 11:25 AM
- Coal companies (KOL -0.8%) are surrendering much of the gains they enjoyed following yesterday's Supreme Court decision against the EPA's mercury emissions regulations, as the initial reaction may prove rosier than the actual benefit to the coal industry.
- The consensus is that the ruling might force the EPA to be less aggressive about its efforts to cut pollution but will not help coal overcome competition from gas and alternative energy; also, the oversupply of natural gas likely will continue to depress the price of gas and reduce coal sales.
- The ruling could prove too late to provide a reprieve for most of the utilities that already had spent the resources to retrofit or retire, Sterne Agee analysts say, but lower MATS compliance operating costs could help some PRB coal power plants compete more aggressively on the margin with gas-fired power plants.
- Citigroup notes the news has important implications for the Clean Power Plan proposal scheduled to be finalized mid-summer 2015, and views the ruling as a net positive for the U.S. thermal coal market and miners such as Peabody Energy (BTU -11.3%), Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP +1.5%),Alliance Holdings (AHGP -0.1%) and Foresight Energy (FELP +0.1%).
- Also: ACI -4.7%, ANR -6.9%, CLD -7%, WLB -2.9%, WLT -12.9%.
Mon, Jun. 29, 11:38 AM
- Coal stocks (KOL +0.3%) are rallying after the Supreme Court threw out the EPA’s first-ever rules requiring coal-fired power plants to cut emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants, saying the agency should have weighed the cost of compliance in deciding whether to regulate.
- The ruling means the EPA must go back to the drawing board, which possibly could push any new emissions rules past Pres. Obama’s time in office.
- Coal companies are enjoying hefty gains: WLT +28.2%, ACI +15.1%, BTU +11.2%, ANR +5.4%, CLD +5.2%, RNO +3.9%, WLB +1.9%, CNX +1.4%.
- Select utility names also are seeing some strength: AEP +1%, PCG +0.9%, D +0.6%, NEE +0.6%, EXC +0.3%.
Fri, Jun. 26, 11:38 AM
- Peabody Energy (BTU -10.2%) sees continued weakness, down ~10% so far today and 20% on the week, although all coal mining shares (KOL -1.5%) have been hammered in recent days.
- Moody's downgraded BTU's corporate credit rating last night to B3 from B2 with a negative outlook, reflecting the rating agency's expectation of a more precipitous deterioration in the company's credit metrics than previously forecast due to the ongoing decline in the seaborne met coal markets.
- The firm sees BTU's debt/EBITDA ratio approaching 9x in 2015 and leverage remaining elevated at ~7x in 2016; absent asset sales, BTU is seen generating negative free cash flows in 2015 and 2016.
- However, BTU and other coal names have been sliding all week; Barron's Ben Levisohn speculates investors may be worried about the pending Supreme Court decision - in light of the Court's "having tilted leftward in its rulings" this week - on whether EPA rules that caused utilities to shutter some coal-fired plans are legal.
- Related tickers: ACI, WLB, CLD, ANR, WLT, CNX, NRP.
Wed, Jun. 24, 2:50 PM
- A bill to require California's state pension funds to sell their investments in companies that generate at least half their revenue from coal mining has passed a committee vote in the state Assembly.
- Calpers says it invests in 20-30 thermal coal mining companies as defined under the bill, valued at $100M-$200M, including Peabody Energy and Arch Coal; Calstrs has coal holdings of ~$40M.
- Pension funds are under pressure from environmental activists to halt investing in fossil fuels; Norway's parliament voted recently to cut coal investments by its $880B sovereign wealth fund, while some U.S. universities have made similar moves.
- Coal stocks already were trading lower before the news: BTU -10.1%, ACI -9.4%, ANR -7.4%, WLB -2.7%, CNX -1.8%, KOL -0.4%.
Fri, Jun. 19, 4:14 PM
Fri, Jun. 12, 4:15 PM
Fri, Jun. 12, 3:11 PM
- Peabody Energy (BTU -8.1%) and Arch Coal (ACI -12.3%) plunge to all-time intraday lows amid concerns that they will have to pay more for insurance that covers environmental damage.
- "Investors don’t know how to handicap this self-bonding issue,” says Doyle Trading CEO Ted O’Brien. "Until the companies come out and give Wall Street certainty that they know how to deal with it, I think we’re going to be stuck in this vortex."
- Wyoming regulators have told Alpha Natural Resources (ANR -10.6%) that it no longer qualifies for a self-bonding program which allows coal producers to cheaply insure their clean-up costs in case of bankruptcy, and are reviewing financial data from BTU and ACI to see if they still qualify.
- Two other coal miners, Cloud Peak Energy (CLD -6.7%) and Walter Energy (WLT -8.2%), also have sunk to record intraday lows.
- ETF: KOL
Wed, Jun. 10, 2:45 PM
- U.S. coal companies worried about the Obama administration’s proposed clean air rules actually face a bigger threat: cheap, abundant natural gas, which is crushing coal prices with no letup in sight, according to a Bloomberg report.
- Shale formations in the eastern U.S. are yielding record amounts of gas, pushing prices of the fuel in the region below coal, which already had been 60% less expensive on average since 2001; as power generators use more gas, coal is piling up at the fastest rate since 2009.
- U.S. utilities are on track to end 2015 with 171M tons of coal in reserve, the highest since 2012, says a BB&T analyst - “It’s going to be ugly,” says Doyle Trading's Hans Daniels. “When stocks build up like that, it just defers the pain for the coal companies.”
- Most coal names are sharply lower: BTU -2.1%, ANR -9.7%, ACI -8.4%, CLD +0.9%, WLB -1.9%, CNX -1.1%, WLT -1.6%.
- ETFs: UNG, UGAZ, DGAZ, KOL, BOIL, GAZ, KOLD, UNL, DCNG
Fri, May 29, 4:17 PM
Wed, May 27, 2:56 PM
- A day after Credit Suisse warned that coal miners such as Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI) and Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR) were in "dire straits," Citigroup analysts say it will be "survival of the fittest" for the world’s coal miners.
- While Citi believes current coal prices are below sustainable long-run levels, it does not expect a return to prices anywhere near the levels seen a few years ago; the firm cuts its long-run thermal coal price forecast to $80/ton from $90 and its met coal price forecast to $125/ton from $170.
- The firm sees China and India as the largest sources of downside risk to its long-run forecasts, particularly for met coal, where China could re-emerge as a net exporter.
- Most coal stocks are extending yesterday's heavy losses: ACI -12.1%, ANR -11.1%, BTU +0.9%, CLD -1.7%, WLB -0.5%, KOL -0.3%.
Tue, May 26, 3:19 PM
- Credit Suisse analysts find little reason to favor coal equities amid a "dire outlook" for the group, initiating Arch Coal (ACI -12.2%) and Alpha Natural Resources (ANR -12.3%) with Underperform ratings and $0.50 share price targets, and Peabody Energy (BTU -5.8%) with a Neutral view and $4.50 target.
- ANR suffers the greatest liquidity risk, the firm says, as negative free cash flow and upcoming debt maturities eat into its existing liquidity position, while ACI fares somewhat better but still is likely to burn through cash for the next several quarters; both companies are limited in their ability to borrow more debt and both face revolver maturities in mid-2016.
- Cloud Peak Energy (CLD -0.9%) - the coal stock “least likely to cause sleepless nights” - is started with an Outperform rating and $11 price target.
- Adding to ACI's woes are Friday's news that the company is in talks with restructuring advisers as it looks to reduce its debt, and the receipt of delisting notice from the NYSE.
- KOL -2.4%.
Tue, Mar. 17, 12:59 PM
- The outlook for U.S. coal producers is "increasingly bleak," and the sector is likely to undergo a wave of bankruptcies, Macquarie Research warns as it forecasts U.S. coal prices (NYSEARCA:KOL) will no longer move in conjunction with international coal prices.
- The decoupling, which will feature declines in U.S. coal prices, will be a "necessary step to force rationalization on U.S. producers" but also likely will result in production cuts and bankruptcies, says analyst Anthony Young.
- Peabody Energy (BTU +4.8%) recently had to pay a 10% interest rate on bonds it issued, which Young says bodes badly for other coal producers, making it harder to refinance debt and leading to cuts and liquidity squeezes.
- Macquarie lowers its stock price targets on Alpha Natural (ANR -4.2%) to $0.60 from $1.15, on Arch Coal (ACI -1.9%) to $0.90 from $1.25, on BTU to $5.30 from $6.40, and on Consol (CNX -0.1%) to $29.50 from $31.50.
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