Pure Play Peabody and Other U.S. Coal Kings Getting Pummelled in Stock Market

Pure Play Peabody and Other U.S. Coal Kings Getting Pummelled in Stock Market
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So far, 2016 has not been very kind to U.S. energy companies solely invested in coal production, and there is no indication that it’s going to get better anytime soon. 

With cheap natural gas substituting coal for electricity production, a sustained downturn in coal demand in China, and tough new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, pure play coal companies like Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) and Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI), are having a horrible run of it. 

St. Louis-based Arch Coal filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, and that news saw trading immediately halted and proceedings undertaken to have Arch Coal delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. Over the last ten years, Arch Coal’s share price dropped from a high of $104.45 per share, to trading at a mere 15.5 cents this week prior to the halt to trading.

Arch Coal’s Chief Financial Officer John Drexler stated as part of the bankruptcy filing on Monday that, “over the past several years, a confluence of economic challenges and regulatory hurdles has hobbled the coal industry.”

A major hurdle for U.S. coal has been tough new greenhouse gas regulations introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency that have put a virtual ban on new coal power plant construction over concerns of rising global temperatures and atmospheric disruption caused in part by carbon emissions from coal-fired electricity plants. 

According to the EPA, the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is electricity production (31%), with a large percentage of that pollution (77%) coming from burning coal for electricity. 

The largest coal producer in the United States, Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) is also finding itself in financial dire straits with its stock price crashing even further on news of Arch Coal’s bankruptcy. 

Peabody Energy shares were in a freefall for most of 2015 and that has continued into early 2016, with its shares on the NYSE closing today at $3.93. Peabody Energy shares peaked at $1,260.75 per share in mid-2008 and have never really recovered since. 

Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) Stock Ticker (1 year)


Sledding hill? No this is Peabody’s stock chart.

While greenhouse gas regulations have delivered a major blow to company’s like Peabody and Arch, it is coming at the same time as China is drastically cutting back coal imports.

According to Chinese government data released this week, overseas shipments of coal to that country declined 30% in 2015. Financial analysts are pointing to various factors for this huge drop in coal imports, with numerous sources citing an economic slowdown, coupled with efforts to cut smog and greenhouse gas emissions as the main culprits.

The outlook remains bleak for the rest of 2016 for energy companies like Peabody that did not read the tea leaves and diversify beyond coal.
 

Check out DeSmog’s new tool to follow the action: Energy Market Tracker: Coal Industry Stock Tickers

Image credit: Carolannie on Flickr.

Pure Play Peabody and Other U.S. Coal Kings Getting Pummelled in Stock Market

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog.

He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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