UPDATE 2-Alliance Resource upbeat on coal export in 2011

Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:29am EST

* Q4 earnings $1.82/lpu vs est $1.66/lpu

* Q4 rev $418.6 mln vs est $425.2 mln

* Sees 2011 sales at $1.75-$1.85 bln vs est $1.81 bln

* Forecasts 10-24 pct higher capital exp in 2011

* Sees 2011 production up 10-13 pct

(Recasts, adds details)

Jan 28 (Reuters) - Thermal coal-focused miner Alliance Resource Partners LP (ARLP.O) expects sustained strength in its export markets and a stabilizing U.S. economy to boost demand and prices this year.

The outlook for thermal coal -- used by utility companies -- has improved after favorable weather and a jump in exports last year pulled down inventory, resulting in firming of prices.

Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Alliance's echoed views of bigger peers Peabody Energy (BTU.N) and Consol Energy (CNX.N) that Asia will likely consume higher volumes of thermal and metallurgical coal in the coming years.

Coal prices have also been boosted by the flooding in top exporter Australia. Since October, the spot prices for benchmark Newcastle, Australia thermal coal have risen more than 35 percent.

Alliance sees domestic coal supply coming under pressure due to the continued growth in global demand and production constraints resulting from heightened regulatory oversight.

"The U.S. economy ... is showing signs of growth, raising expectations for higher electricity consumption in the future and pointing to increased coal demand," Chief Executive Joseph Craft said in a statement.

The company forecast 2011 revenue of $1.75-$1.85 billion, compared with analysts' estimates of $1.81 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Sales were $1.61 billion last year.[ID:nASA01GEI]

October-December net income more than doubled to $87.4 million, while revenue climbed 40 percent to $418.6 million.

Shares of the company were down 20 cents at $67.94 in morning trade on Friday on Nasdaq. They have gained about 16 percent in the past three months, but have lagged the broader Dow Jones US Coal Index's .DJUSCL 27 percent gain. (Reporting by Vaishnavi Bala in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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