Coal miner Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) reported third-quarter earnings of 49 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus estimate of 22 cents. However, the quarterly results were down 70.4% from the year ago earnings of $1.35 per share.

Peabody’s revenues declined to $1.67 billion in the quarter from $1.89 billion a year ago. The company’s U.S. revenues per ton increased 11% over last year due to higher realized prices. Realized revenues for Australia averaged $82 per ton – $125 per ton for metallurgical coal and $72 per ton for thermal coal – up 33% from the second quarter of 2009.

The company’s total sales volumes were 63.5 million tons, down from 65.6 million tons a year ago. U.S. sales reflected planned Powder River Basin (PRB) reductions. But Australian sales of 6.5 million tons were 30% above the second quarter and Australian metallurgical coal exports were 2.7
million tons, nearly triple the pace of the first half of 2009.

Peabody now expects its 2009 EBITDA to be $1.2-$1.3 billion versus previous target of $1-$1.2 billion. The company is targeting earnings of $1.34 – $1.54 per share, including a tax remeasurement, or $1.60 – $1.80 per share excluding the tax effects.

It expects total sales to be 235 – 245 million tons in 2009, with sales of approximately 190 million tons in the United States and 21 to 23 million tons in Australia. The company continues to exercise tight capital discipline and has lowered its 2009 capital expenditure range to $325 – $375 million.

The company intends to double its exports of Australian coal over the next five years to serve the fast-growing Asian markets. The company growth going forward is expected to be driven by continued strength in United States and Australia (Pacific markets), led by China’s and India’s demand for metallurgical coal for steelmaking.

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