PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech miner New World Resources (NWRR.L) (NWRR.PR) reported its biggest quarterly loss since its 2008 stock market debut on Thursday, as the weak global economy reduced steelmakers’ demand for its coal.
New World Resources (NWR), which supplies the central European units of steelmakers ArcelorMittal ISPA.AS and Evraz (EVRE.L), said on Thursday trading was likely to stay tough in the first half of this year, but could improve thereafter.
“We are going to have a difficult first half, there is no doubt about that,” Executive Chairman Gareth Penny told Reuters.
“Have we reached the bottom and are we on the way up? I believe so. It will take some time for that to feed through into the financials,” he added.
NWR shares dropped as much as 7.3 percent on the results.
The $500-billion-a-year steel industry, a gauge of the global economy, slowed sharply last year as a moderation in China’s economic growth compounded weak demand from austerity-ravaged Europe.
Global crude steel production rose just 1.2 percent in 2012, compared with 6.8 percent in 2011, although there are signs a pick up in growth from Asia could help deliver a better 2013.
NWR swung to a fourth-quarter net loss of 48.6 million euros ($65 million), hit by falling coal prices and a one-off loss of 15 million euros from an inventory revaluation.
That was worse than analysts’ average estimate of a 35.6- million-euros loss in a Reuters poll, and compared with an 8.8-million-euro profit in the corresponding period in 2011.
NWR, which owns hard coal mines in the north-east of the Czech Republic, said it would not pay a dividend for the second half of 2012.
Coal sales reached 9.7 million tonnes in 2012, down 9 percent on 2011, with an almost equal split between thermal coal and higher-margin coking coal.
NWR expects coking coal prices to improve in 2013 after a slight rise in the first quarter, but the thermal coal market will remain difficult, resulting in only a gradual sale of inventories during 2013, it said.
It ended 2012 with coal inventories of 1.3 million tonnes.
NWR reiterated guidance on coal production of 10 million to 11 million tonnes in 2013 after 11.2 million tonnes in 2012.
It said it was targeting sales of 9.5 million to 10.5 million tonnes, split equally between coking and thermal coal.
The company expects capital investments to range between 120 million and 130 million euros this year, including 10 million on a project to open its Polish mine Debiensko, after a technical revision of the site. However, the unfavorable market conditions warrant a cautious approach to the project, NWR said.
“In light of the current market conditions, we will limit our progress on site in 2013 to the purchase of surface properties and project value engineering,” NWR said.
At 1045 GMT, NWR shares were down 3.6 percent at 84 crowns, compared with a 1.2 percent decline in Prague's PX .PX index.
($1 = 0.7479 euros)
Writing by Jana Mlcochova and Jason Hovet; Editing by David Goodman and Mark Potter