UPDATE 1-Walter Energy adjusted loss bigger than estimated as coal prices fall

Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 | 7:19 AM ET


* Adjusted loss $1.30/share vs estimated $1.02/share

* Revenue down nearly 26 percent at $455.8 mln

Oct 30 (Reuters) - Coal miner Walter Energy Inc reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly adjusted loss due to weak prices of steel-making coal, its main product.

Overcapacity in the global steel market and weaker demand in China have hit prices of metallurgical coal.

Rival Arch Coal Inc on Tuesday cut its production outlook for steel-making coal for the second time this year due to weak prices.

However, Walter Energy Chief Executive Walt Scheller said prices were beginning to improve. "We look forward to improved financial performance in the fourth quarter and in 2014," he said.

Walter Energy reported a net loss of $100.7 million, or $1.61 per share, for the third quarter ended Sept. 30. ()

The company's net loss was $1.1 billion, or $16.97 per share, in the year-ago quarter as it took a $1.1 billion impairment charge related to its acquisition of Western Coal.

Excluding one-time items, the third-quarter loss was $1.30 per share, bigger than the average analyst estimate of $1.02, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell nearly 26 percent to $455.8 million, primarily because of lower prices of metallurgical coal.

Higher metallurgical coal sales volumes and lower costs partially offset the impact of low prices, Walter Energy said.

Cash costs as a percentage of sales for metallurgical coal fell 10.8 percent in the third quarter, Walter Energy said.

Metallurgical coal accounted for 84 percent of total coal sales volume in the third quarter, up from 74 percent a year earlier.

The company said it expected metallurgical coal output to rise in the fourth quarter from the third quarter.

Walter Energy, which also produces thermal coal used in power generation, said in August that it was aiming to raise $250 million from asset sales over nine months.

The company, with operations in North America and the United Kingdom, has slashed capital spending and cut its quarterly dividend earlier this year to 1 cent per share from 12.5 cents.

Walter Energy shares were down slightly at $15.30 in premarket trading.

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