It is too bad that U.S. coal companies can’t convince Apple to put a little coal in each iPhone the company sells. That may be the only thing that could save the miners from a disaster that started more than three years ago and keeps pushing coal stocks to multiyear lows.
The latest dose of bad news came from Goldman Sachs, which published a report Thursday morning claiming that prices for metallurgical coal have not yet hit a bottom. Met coal, as it is known, is used in steelmaking and the lower-priced thermal (or steam) coal is used to generate electricity. Goldman does not see a different trajectory for thermal coal prices either.
Goldman downgraded Peabody Energy Co. (NYSE: BTU) from Neutral to Sell, with a new price target of $13, down from $15. Other coal miners were hit as well, with Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI), Cloud Peak Energy Inc. (NYSE: CLD), Walter Energy Inc. (NYSE: WLT) and Peabody all posting new 52-week lows. Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: ANR) has fallen within a dime of a new low.
Goldman seems to be saying that if an investor absolutely must invest in a coal company, look at either CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) or SunCoke Energy Inc. (NYSE: SXC), both of which rely less on met coal. SunCoke supplies coke to steelmaking plants and CONSOL has made a significant move into natural gas.
Peabody’s shares fell to an intra-day low of $13.30, down 6.2%, a level the stock has not seen since September of 2004. Since a recent peak in March of 2011, Peabody’s shares have lost nearly 80%. Only Alpha (down 94%) and Arch (down 92%) have done worse.
SunCoke, which came public in July of 2011, has risen about 45% since its initial public offering price of $16, to close Wednesday night at $23.25. Shares were up nearly 1.5% more Thursday, trading at $23.58 in a 52-week range of $16.41 to $24.57.
In the noon hour Thursday, Peabody trades at $13.34, after posting a new low of $13.30. The 52-week high is $21.28.
Alpha Natural Resources traded at $3.18, in a 52-week range of $3.10 to $8.30.
Arch Coal traded at $2.63, a new 52-week low. The 52-week high is $5.37.
Cloud Peak traded at $13.11, after posting a new 52-week low of $13.10. The 52-week high is $22.43.
Walter Energy traded down 6.7%, at $3.21 after posting a new 52-week low of $3.05. The 52-week high is $19.50.
CONSOL Energy traded down 2.5% at $37.90 in a 52-week range of $32.96 to $48.30.
SunCoke traded up 1.3%, at $23.55 in a 52-week range of $16.41 to $24.57.