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Will Coal Stock Cloud Peak (CLD) Surprise in Q1 Earnings?

Cloud Peak Energy Inc. CLD 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%. Let’s see how things are shaping up at the company prior to this announcement.

Factors to Consider This Quarter

The coal industry continues to fight an uphill battle against stringent emission regulations and increasing uptake of clean burning natural gas. The declining demand for coal and a drop in selling prices are making it difficult for the coal players.

Cloud Peak Energy expects a decline in coal demand in 2016 from 2015 levels. Shipment volumes touched 75.1 million tons in 2015, while the company expects 2016 volumes to be in the range of 64 to 70 million tons. The milder winter season is also expected to have an adverse impact on coal demand in the first quarter. Plus, the strong U.S. dollar and a decline in Chinese imports are lowering the opportunity in the export market.

Management expects a very slow first half of the year as stockpiles decline with a much stronger second half, quite like 2015. Amid challenging times and depressed coal prices, the company has resorted to cost control measures which are to some extent expected to benefit the first quarter.

Surprise History

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%.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Cloud Peak Energy is likely to beat estimates this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank of #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) for this to happen. This is not the case here.

Zacks ESP: This is because the Most Accurate estimate stands at a loss of 14 cents, on par with the Zacks Consensus Estimate, resulting in 0.00% ESP.

Zacks Rank: Though Cloud Peak Energy’s Zacks Rank #2 increases the predictive power of the ESP, its 0.00% ESP makes a beat uncertain this quarter.

We caution against stocks with a Zacks Ranks #4 and #5 (Sell rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Stocks to Consider

At present we have only one company related to the coal industry worth considering on the basis of our model, which shows that it has the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter.

SunCoke Energy Inc. SXC fits the bill with an earnings ESP of +150% and a Zacks Rank #1. It is slated to report earnings on Apr 27, 2016.

Here are a couple of operators in the oil & energy sector worth considering on the basis of our model, which shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Westar Energy WR has an earnings ESP of +10.64% and carries a Zacks Rank #3. It is expected to report earnings after the market closes on May 4, 2016.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation CHK has an Earnings ESP of +25.00% and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).  It is expected to report earnings on May 4, 2016.

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WESTAR ENERGY (WR): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CLOUD PEAK EGY (CLD): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CHESAPEAKE ENGY (CHK): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
SUNCOKE ENERGY (SXC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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