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Consol Energy posts $11.4M 3Q loss on weak demand

PITTSBURGH -- Coal miner Consol Energy Inc. on Thursday posted an $11.4 million third-quarter loss, hurt by ongoing weak demand for coal.

The Pittsburgh-based company's loss amounted to 5 cents per share, compared with a year-ago profit of $167.3 million, or 74 cents per share. Revenue tumbled 24 percent to $1.16 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 4 cents per share on $1.18 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Demand for coal has tumbled this year as a result of a drop in natural gas prices and a slowing global economy. In addition, the mild winter significantly reduced U.S. demand for electricity to heat homes and businesses.

As a result, coal makers across the industry have idled their mines and laid off thousands of workers.

Consol also was hurt by the collapse of a pair of conveyor belts that connect two of its Pennsylvania mines to a preparation plant. Production was idled for about three weeks until one of the belts was restarted.

The company estimated that its third-quarter net income would have been about $53 million higher if the conveyor belt incident had not occurred. It added that the drop in production also helped push up coal production costs.

Consol, which also produces natural gas, expects a boost in the fourth-quarter from sequential increases in gas and coal production, but warned that demand for the kind of coal used in steel production will remain week.

Consol shares fell 36 cents to $34.27 in afternoon trading.