Peabody Energy reported a $23.4 million net loss in the first quarter on weaker U.S. coal sales and lower coal prices in Australia. The loss equaled 9 cents a share compared with net income of $172.7 million, or 63 cents, in the same quarter last year.
Coal producers were hurt as electric utilities switched away from coal to natural gas in large numbers last year. But Peabody, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, sees that trend reversing.
Cowen Securities analyst Daniel Scott, in a research note to clients Thursday, called Peabody’s first-quarter showing “a net positive,” pointing to the company’s push to manage costs, paying down $100 million in debt in the first quarter and the expectation it will pay off a similar amount by May.