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Peabody shares fall on Goldman Sachs downgrade

The Associated Press
Tuesday, 23 Oct 2012 | 12:28 AM ET

Peabody Energy Corp.'s shares fell in trading Tuesday after a Goldman Sachs analyst downgraded his rating on the coal company after a recent rally in its stock price.

THE SPARK: Analyst Andre Benjamin downgraded his rating on the company's shares to "Neutral" from "Buy," saying that he doesn't expect big moves from the company in the near future that could further drive up shares.

THE BIG PICTURE: Peabody, based in St. Louis, is the world's biggest private-sector coal company.

Peabody and other coal miners have struggled with falling global thermal coal prices as power plants turned to abundant and cheap natural gas rather than coal. The company expects the global coal market to stabilize soon due a recent uptick in natural gas prices and increasing demand for coal used to make steel.

The company reported Monday that its third-quarter profit fell 84 percent but topped Wall Street's expectations.

Peabody has relied on cost-cutting measures to ensure its profitability during this tough period and said it will continue to do so.

THE ANALYSIS: While the company's prospects are better, Benjamin said they're priced into the stock, which has gained 30 percent in October. Overall this year, they had dropped 13 percent.

Peabody is planning to sell a mine in Australia, which could boost shares, but Benjamin said he doesn't expect any other company actions to propel shares in the near future.

He raised the company's price target to $28 from $26, still a 3 percent discount to Monday's close.

SHARE ACTION: The company's shares fell 68 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $28.27 in midday trading.

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