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Gauging Coal Stocks Q1 Earnings: SXC, CLD, CNX, ARLP, CNXC

The first-quarter 2016 earnings season is well under way with 7% of the S&P 500 members having already released their numbers.  Another 100 or so S&P 500 members are going to report this week.  Overall, Q1 earnings from the entire S&P 500 group are expected to be down 10.1% from the prior-year period with the largest drag not surprisingly coming from the oil & energy sector (estimated at down 105.7%). One can find more details in our Earnings Trends report.

Here we will turn our focus to an ill-fated industry – coal – that has almost been written off by investors. But the story of coal was starkly different only two years back. A lot seems to have happened since then leading big names like Peabody Energy and Arch Coal to declare bankruptcy.

The fall of a once healthy coal industry is largely attributed to stringent emission regulations coming into force and the increasing usage of cheap but clean burning natural gas and other alternatives in the power sector. On top of it, a mild winter in the first quarter made matters worse for the coal miners. The export market also does not look promising due to the strong dollar, lower imports from China and higher production from global competitors who enjoy the double benefit of cheap labor and lower transportation costs.

That said, coal is still used to produce nearly 40% of global electricity. Coal’s greatest advantage as compared to other sources of fuel lies in its low cost and wide availability.

Given the challenges of the coal industry, it will be interesting to see how some of the coal firms will fare in their upcoming releases next week.  The focus will obviously be on beats and misses. It will also be on how management is tackling the headwinds and the outlook they’re providing.

SunCoke Energy SXC, a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock, will release first quarter 2016 financial results before the market opens on Apr 27, 2016. In the prior quarter, this coke producer reported a positive earnings surprise of 220%. Rising to the challenges, SunCoke has been putting up sustained performances at its Domestic Coke and Coal Logistics businesses. We expect this coal miner to come up with a positive earnings surprise this season (read more:Can SunCoke Energy Earnings Beat Estimates in Q1?).

The above chart indicates that SunCoke Energy was able to register an earnings beat last quarter after failing to do so in the previous three quarters.

Cloud Peak Energy Inc.CLD, a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock, will release first quarter 2016 financial results after the market closes on Apr 28, 2016. In the prior quarter, this pure-play Powder River Basin coal miner reported a positive earnings surprise of 294.74%. Cloud Peak Energy expects a decline in coal demand in 2016 from 2015 levels. We expect this coal miner to disappoint expectations this season (read more:Will Coal Stock Cloud Peak  Surprise in Q1 Earnings?).

The above chart indicates that Cloud Peak Energy was able to generate positive earnings surprises in the last four quarters. The average positive surprise was 177.77%.

CONSOL Energy Inc. CNX, a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock, will release first quarter 2016 financial results before the market opens on Apr 26, 2016. In the prior quarter, this multi-fuel producer reported a negative earnings surprise of 120%. As a survival strategy, the company is increasing its E&P focus, suspending dividend and implementing zero-based budgeting. Despite its efforts, we expect CONSOL Energy to miss expectations this season (read more:CONSOL Energy : Stock to Disappoint in Q1 Earnings?).


The above chart indicates that CONSOL Energy failed to generate positive earnings surprises in the last three quarters.

Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. ARLP, a Zacks Rank #3 stock, will release first quarter 2016 financial results before the market opens on Apr 26, 2016. In the prior quarter, this coal miner reported a negative surprise of 10.13%. The partnership expects 2016 coal demand in its Illinois Basin and northern Appalachia markets to be lower than 2015 levels. We expect its earnings to come in below expectations (read more:Will Alliance Resource  Surprise in Q1 Earnings?).

The above chart indicates that Alliance Resource Partners failed to generate positive earnings surprises in the last four quarters. The average negative surprise was 17.14%.

CNX Coal Resources LP CNXC is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results on Apr 25, after the closing bell. Last quarter, the partnership reported a negative earnings surprise of 26.00%. Given the persistent weakness in coal markets, the partnership has recently lowered its coal sales volume outlook for 2016 to the range of 4.4–5.2 million tons from its previous guidance of 5–5.4 million tons. We also expect this coal miner to miss estimates this season (read more:CNX Coal Q1 Earnings: Will the Stock Disappoint?).

The above chart indicates that CNX Coal missed earnings estimates in the previous quarter.

Bottom Line

The chips are really down for the coal industry at present.  But will coal stocks take us by surprise when they report next week?

Keep an eye on our full earnings articles to see how these stocks finally fared this season.

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CONSOL ENERGY (CNX): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CLOUD PEAK EGY (CLD): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
ALLIANCE RES (ARLP): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
SUNCOKE ENERGY (SXC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CNX COAL RESRCS (CNXC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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