Even Under Trump, a U.S. Coal Giant Plots Cautious Comeback Plan – by Tim Loh (Bloomberg News – April 4, 2017)



President Donald Trump has been offering coal companies everything under the sun –- fewer regulations, more land to mine, a freer pass from concerns about climate change. The combination, he says, will put coal miners back to work.

But the nation’s biggest coal miner, Peabody Energy Corp., is touting a less grandiose strategy. It’s no longer looking — or expecting — to boost coal output significantly, said Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow Tuesday, after his company emerged from yearlong bankruptcy. Instead, he’s focused on a narrower objective: simply making money.

“We’re much more interested in growing shareholder returns, shareholder value, than we are on growing tons of volume,” Kellow said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York.

The approach underscores just how cautious those in the U.S. coal sector remain even as Trump’s cheer-leading fuels a nascent sense of optimism. After years of pain that culminated with a rash of bankruptcies including Peabody’s last April, coal miners are benefiting from higher prices and increased interest from Wall Street. Arch Coal Inc. emerged from bankruptcy in October and Ramaco Resources Inc. in February held the sector’s first initial public offering in two years.

Peabody rose as much as 4.6 percent to $28.50 and were trading at $27.85 at 10:30 a.m. in New York. Shares opened at $32 Tuesday on the company’s return to equity markets.

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