James River Coal Misses Debt Payment

James River Coal Co., an unprofitable U.S. producer of the fuel, missed an interest payment as it continues to evaluate options including a possible sale of the company.

The Richmond, Virginia-based company said in a filing yesterday it wouldn’t make the payment on its 3.125 percent convertible notes due 2018. James River said it’s entitled to a 30-day grace period in which to make the payment before a default is deemed to have occurred. The company also delayed its annual 10-K filing and won’t host an investor call to discuss fourth-quarter results.

The company said last month it hired Perella Weinberg Partners LP as a restructuring adviser, Deutsche Bank AG as its mergers and acquisitions adviser and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP as legal adviser. Other options being evaluated include issuing debt and selling equity.

James River idled three of its eight mining complexes in the second half of last year and hasn’t posted an annual net profit since 2010. It’s among U.S. coal producers suffering amid a decline in the price of the commodity. Booming natural gas output from shale rock in recent years has spurred some electric utilities to switch to using gas. Meanwhile rising Australian output of metallurgical coal, which is used in steelmaking, has helped create a global surplus and depressed prices.

The company’s $47.3 million of 4.5 percent convertible securities due December 2015 fell 5.75 cents to reach 5 cents on the dollar on March 12, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

James River’s shares dropped 12 percent to 62 cents at 10:57 a.m. today in New York.

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