Peabody Forecasts First-Quarter Loss That Trails Estimates

Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU), the largest U.S. coal producer, forecast a first-quarter loss that is wider than analysts estimated on expectations of higher costs at its Australian operations.

The company will have a loss excluding one-time items of 4 cents to 26 cents, St. Louis-based Peabody said today in a statement. Analysts projected a loss of 3 cents, the average of 16 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

“Targets reflect expectations of higher Australian costs related to the timing of additional overburden removal and startup costs associated with the transition to owner operator; lower realized metallurgical coal pricing; and lower U.S. sales and pricing,” Peabody said in the statement.

In the fourth quarter, the company had a net loss of $1.01 billion, or $3.78 a share, which compares with net income of $222.4 million, or 82 cents, a year earlier, Peabody said. Sales fell to $2.02 billion from $2.23 billion, beating the $1.91 billion average of nine estimates.

Peabody ships metallurgical coal, used in steelmaking, to Asian customers from its Australian mines. It also produces thermal coal, burned by utility companies to generate electricity at its Australian and U.S. mines.

(Peabody scheduled a conference call starting at 11 a.m. New York time, accessible at +1-800-230-1074.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Sonja Elmquist in New York at selmquist1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net

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