November 2, 2012 / 11:16 AM / 5 years ago

Alpha Natural loss narrower than expected on output cuts

(Reuters) - Alpha Natural Resources Inc ANR.N, the third-largest coal producer in the United States, reported a narrower-than-expected loss as production cuts helped blunt the effect of weak prices.

The company, which supplies thermal coal for power generation and metallurgical coal for making steel, has suspended operations in more than 12 mines this year.

It revealed plans to implement further cost reductions, mainly in its thermal coal business, in September.

Production cuts are being taken in a pricing environment where majority of U.S. thermal coal would be uneconomic to produce at current spot market prices, while metallurgical coal has also fallen as the market is oversupplied, Chief Executive Kevin Crutchfield said in a statement on Friday.

All major U.S. coal producers have slashed output to bring supply in line with demand. Worst-hit Patriot Coal Corp PCXCQ.PK sought court protection from its creditors in July.

Closest rivals Peabody Energy Corp (BTU.N) and Arch Coal ACI.N both surprised market with better-than-expected results as cost cutting measures paid off and there was trace of pick-up in demand.

Alpha Natural reported net loss of $46 million, or 21 cents per share, in the third quarter, compared with a profit of $63 million, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier.

    Revenue fell 30 percent to $1.63 billion.

    Revenue declined for the fourth straight time as the company slashed production.

    Analysts on average had expected a loss of 45 cents per share on revenue of $1.68 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Shares of Alpha Natural, which have fallen 57 percent so far this year, closed at $8.86 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. (Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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