Lower gas prices weigh on Peabody’s weak results, expected coal demand

Lower gas prices weigh on Peabody’s results, expected coal demand

Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE:BTU), the U.S. top coal producer by sales, said Tuesday it expected demand for the fossil fuel to decline 50 to 60 million tons this year across the country, mainly triggered by lower natural gas prices.

Delivering its fourth quarter results, the company announced it had reduced its dividend to 0.25 cents a share from 8.5 cents to help pay for the roughly $1 billion in annual cash payments, capital investments and other liabilities over the next two years.

A global glut of metallurgical coal — trading at a six-year low amid slowing Chinese demand — is expected to stop growing for the first time since 2011, Peabody said.

The company is going through a rough phase as increasing usage of natural gas and alternative energy is steadily eating into coal's share in power generation.

Overall, sales volume in the fourth quarter fell 0.5%. Revenue fell 2.2% to $983.6 million in its U.S. mining operations as revenue per ton dropped 5.8%. In its Australian mining operations, revenue declined 5.6% to $676.3 million as revenue per ton fell 17%.

The company’s shares fell about 60% last year, compared to a 33% plunge in the broader Dow Jones U.S. Coal index.

Image courtesy of Peabody Energy.