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Peabody posts first quarter loss, outlook upbeat

Apr 18, 2013 - The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS --Coal miner Peabody Energy Corp. said Thursday that it posted a loss for the first three months of the year on lower U.S. shipments and prices for its Australian coal, though the results still beat Wall Street's expectations.

St. Louis-based Peabody, the world's biggest private-sector coal producer, cautioned that the current quarter could be similarly impaired, as it forecast earnings in a range of a loss of 25 cents per share to a penny per share profit. The company did not offer guidance for the full year.

Like other coal companies, Peabody has struggled amid stubbornly soft demand that has driven down coal prices as utilities turned to cheaper natural gas to generate electricity. But Peabody has insisted there have been encouraging signs of recovery, including expectations of rising U.S. coal demand and Asian imports as natural gas prices tick up.

While touting the company's global cost-containment effort in recent months, Peabody chairman and CEO Gregory Boyce said Thursday that "first-quarter U.S. coal demand saw strong improvement over the prior year as generators switch back to coal and away from higher-priced natural gas in key regions."

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