* 4th-quarter coal costs per ton sold fall 8 pct
* Adj EPS $0.43 vs est $0.24 - Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S
* Revenue $1.4 bln vs est $1.3 mln
By Garima Goel
Jan 31 Consol Energy Inc plans to sell
more assets this year to navigate a difficult market after
raising $350 million last year from the sale of non-core coal
reserves in the United States and Canada.
"We look at the number of assets we have and decide where
they fit in the mix going forward," Chief Executive Brett Harvey
said on a post-earnings conference call on Thursday.
"We've also developed a way of looking at all of our assets
that are also core functions but are undervalued in our share
The company recorded a pretax gain of $90 million from the
sale of some properties in the fourth quarter, when profit
before income tax was $198.4 million.
Brean Capital analyst Lucas Pipes said the potential of
Consol's asset sale remained "underappreciated".
Consol said it sold 91 percent of the electricity-generating
thermal coal it produced last year in the domestic markets,
where utilities are increasingly switching to cheaper natural
Benchmark Australia Newcastle thermal coal prices fell 16
percent last year, forcing many companies in the United States,
Indonesia and Australia to idle high-cost mines and sell
REIGNING IN COSTS
Consol reported a better-than-expected adjusted profit of 43
cents per share in the December quarter as cost cuts helped
offset weak prices of coal. Analysts on average had expected 24
cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S,
Net income fell 23 percent to $150 million, while revenue
and other income fell 10 percent to $1.39 billion.
Costs-per-ton-sold fell 8 percent to $48.21, the lowest last
year. Simmons & Co analysts said the cost cuts were stronger
than their expectation.
The shutdown of Consol's higher-cost Fola mine near Bickmore
in West Virginia, fewer maintenance projects and less overtime
brought down costs in the fourth quarter.
"The active footprint in many of our mines is smaller,"
Chief Financial Officer William Lyons said on the call.
Lyons said the company's BMX mine in Western Pennsylvania -
slated to come online in the first half of 2014 - will be its
lowest-cost coal operation.
Pittsburg-based Consol forecast coal sales volumes of 56.3
million tons for the year, around last year's levels.
Coal miner Peabody Energy Corp on Tuesday forecast
an adjusted loss of between 4 cents and 26 cents per share in
the first quarter, against analysts' estimates of a loss of 9
Consol's shares were up about 1 percent at $31.46 in
afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.
The stock has fallen about 38 percent since touching a year-high
of $38.22 in early February.