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Message: Jefferies & Co. bullish on met & therm coal

Jefferies & Co. bullish on met & therm coal

posted on Sep 24, 2009 07:03PM



A Ton of Opportunity for Coal Producers

Jefferies & Co. raised price targets on companies in the sector.

Jefferies & Co.

WE BELIEVE THE long-term fundamental outlook for coal remainspositive as global economic activity, electricity generation andcompeting fuel prices normalize. Asian seaborne demand, a weak U.S.dollar and infrastructure challenges will also support coal.

We are raising our price targets ondomestic coal producers reflecting sensitivity toward expected improveddomestic-energy demand, and international metallurgical- and steam-coalshipment opportunities. We continue to suggest investors overweightcoal equities.

Coal equities have found furtherinvestor support from a technical rally in natural-gas prices,improving global metallurgical-coal markets, expected voluntary andnonvoluntary domestic production cuts, energy money flow and weakdollar sentiment.

We note shares have rallied despiteweak industrial economic activity and natural-gas power displacementresulting in a greater than 10% drop in coal burn for electricitygeneration in 2009 year-to-date and record-high utility inventories ofapproximately 190 million tons.

We expect U.S. coal producers willcontinue to exercise production discipline witnessed during the past 12months. Through nine months, U.S. coal production has declined by 50million tons. Regulatory and capital burdens will accelerate producttightness once energy demand recovers.

We are raising our price target on Massey Energy(ticker: MEE) to $40 from $30 based on a 6.5 times multiple of our 2010earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda)estimate of $625 million. We believe the company has upside marginpotential for its uncommitted industrial and metallurgical-coalproducts.

We are raising our price target on Peabody Energy(BTU) to $45 [from $42] based on a 9.0 times enterprise value(EV)/Ebitda multiple of our 2010 Ebitda estimate of $1.60 billion. Webelieve Peabody is well positioned to capitalize on Asia Pacific coaldemand and improving U.S. economic activity.

We are raising our price target on International Coal Group(ICO) to $5.00 from $3.75 based on a 5.1 times EV/Ebitda multiple of our 2010 Ebitda estimate of $225 million.

We are raising our price target on James River Coal(JRCC) to $28 from $25 based on a 5.2 times EV/Ebitda multiple of our2010 Ebitda estimate of $180 million. Each should be able to showoperational improvements while benefiting from solid contract backlogs.

Risks to our targets includelower-than-expected realized coal prices, slack electricity generation,aborted global recovery, significant pullback in energy prices andunexpected operational difficulties.

-- Michael S. Dudas
-- Kalpesh H. Patel

Source: http://online.barrons.com/article/SB125374407960935539.html?mod=BOL_hpp_oe

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