- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Cost cutting at Peabody Energy helped trim its losses by almost 44 percent in the fourth quarter.

The St. Louis company, the world’s biggest private-sector coal producers, reported a loss of $565.7 million Thursday, or $2.12 per share during the October-December period, compared with a loss of $1.01 billion, or $3.78 per share, a year ago.

Revenue fell to $1.7 billion from $2.01 billion, a 14 percent drop-off Peabody at least partly attributed to weaker prices for coal used in steelmaking.

The company said Thursday, however, that it had also realized cost savings of $340 million in 2013.

For all of last year, Peabody posted a net loss of $524.9 million, or $1.97 per share, on revenue of $7.01 billion. That compares with a 2012 loss of $585.7 million, or $2.19 per share.

Peabody said it forecasts adjusted diluted earnings in this year’s first three months of a loss of 10 cents to a profit of 14 cents per share, with expectations of better volumes and improving costs in the second half of the year.

Peabody said U.S. coal production fell by 30 million tons last year, dropping the yearlong output below one billion tons for the first time since 1993. The company said production is expected to rise modestly this year.

Shares of Peabody Energy Corp. fell 56 cents, or more than 3 percent, to $16.83 in midday trading. Peabody’s earnings are closely watched because the company usually is among the first of the coal sector’s big players to report earnings each quarter.

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