* First-quarter adj net loss $0.34 vs $0.04 year earlier
* Revenue falls 21 pct
* Sees uptick in spot buying activity
* Cuts capex forecast by about $30 mln for 2013
* Shares fall as much as 8 pct
April 23 Arch Coal Inc, the
second-largest U.S. coal producer, reported a larger adjusted
loss in the first quarter as prices and sales volumes fell, but
the company said it is seeing signs of stockpiles easing.
Arch Coal shares fell as much as 8 percent to $4.50 in
morning trade, but later pared some losses to trade at $4.67 on
the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon.
The company, which supplies thermal coal for power
generation and metallurgical coal for making steel, said coal
stockpiles could end the year below 145 million tons.
"Our customers are no longer calling us to defer tons as
they did a year ago. We have seen an uptick in spot buying
activity," Chief Executive John Eaves said on a conference call.
The company forecast a stronger second half due to an
improving domestic coal market, a recovering metallurgical
market and starting of its Leer mine in Appalachia.
"Positive catalysts, such as normalized weather and higher
competing fuel prices, are improving the outlook for the
domestic thermal market, our largest market by volume," Eaves
said in a statement.
The use of hydraulic fracturing boosted gas production from
shales and pushed prices to a 10-year low last April, prompting
many power producers to switch to natural gas from coal.
But in recent months natural gas prices have risen, raising
hopes for a recovery in the U.S. thermal coal market.
The company expects U.S. coal consumption for power
generation to increase by 50 million tons or more in 2013
compared with 2012.
Arch Coal expects U.S. metallurgical coal exports to remain
high, with overall coal exports projected to total above 100
million tons in 2013.
Higher U.S. steel output could translate in increased buying
activity from its metallurgical customers in the second half of
the year, Eaves said.
Arch Coal, which has operations in Appalachia, the Illinois
Basin and the Powder River Basin, said it is seeking customers
in China, India, Korea and Japan for metallurgical and thermal
Metallurgical exports rose nearly 15 percent in the first
quarter and exports to Asia are growing, the company said.
REVENUE SLIPS, CUTS CAPEX
Arch Coal's net loss in the quarter was $70 million, or 33
cents per share, compared with a net profit of $1.2 million, or
1 cent per share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, net loss widened to $71.8 million, or
34 cents per share, from $7.6 million, or 4 cents per share, a
Analysts on average were expecting a loss of 34 cents per
share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company cut its capex by about $30 million for the year.
It now expects to spend between $300 million and $330 million.
Revenue fell 21 percent to $825.5 million in the quarter,
below analysts' average expectation of $913.2 million.
Sales volumes decline 6 percent. Average sales price per ton
fell about 16 percent to $21.66.
Weak prices for metallurgical and thermal coal have weighed
on U.S. coal producers, especially on companies that sell
thermal coal to domestic customers.
Arch Coal expects to sell 133-144 million tons of coal in
Earlier on Tuesday, Teck Resources Ltd ,
Canada's largest diversified miner, reported a 40 percent fall
in first-quarter adjusted profit due to lower coal prices.