* Company to continue dividend payments - CEO
* Reports Q4 loss on adjusted basis
* To idle Harvey coal mine in Pennsylvania
* Shares rise by almost 22 pct (Adds analyst and CEO quote, updates shares)
By Tanvi Mehta
Jan 29 (Reuters) - Coal and natural gas producer Consol Energy Inc expressed confidence on Friday that its free cash flow would help it ride out weak commodity prices, helping to drive up the company’s shares by almost 22 percent.
Consol, which reported an adjusted loss for the fourth quarter, said its cash flow from operations rose to $102 million in the period from $87 million a year earlier.
“With our internal free cash flow plan, we are confident we can ride out this volatile market,” Chief Financial Officer David Khani said on a conference call with analysts.
Chief Executive Nicholas DeIuliis said Consol would continue to pay a dividend. The company cut its quarterly payout to 1 cent per share from 6.25 cents last year.
DeIuliis also said he was confident Consol would not have to sell assets to boost liquidity.
Consol’s shares were up 17 percent at $7.89 in early afternoon trading.
Some concerns about liquidity remain, however.
“While we’re fans of the prudent 2016 plan, we continue to prefer stronger balance sheets in the current commodity price environment,” analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co wrote in a client note.
As of Sept. 30, Consol had total debt of $3.73 billion and cash and cash equivalents of $83 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The company had $855.9 million in total liquidity as of Dec. 31, its earnings statement showed.
Pittsburgh-based Consol, which has shifted its focus to natural gas from coal, raised $101 million in October by selling coal assets.
The company said on Friday it would temporarily idle its Harvey coal mine in southwestern Pennsylvania, months after it idled the Miller Creek Complex in West Virginia.
Net income attributable to Consol fell to $30.4 million, or 13 cents per share, in the quarter compared with $73.67 million, or 32 cents per share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, however, the company lost 11 cents per share, worse than the average analyst estimate of 9 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue fell nearly 19 percent to $761.9 million, missing the average estimate of $935.7 million by a large margin.
Up to Thursday’s close, Consol’s stock had slumped nearly 77 percent over the past 12 months, steeper than the near 44 percent fall in the Dow Jones U.S. Basic Resources Index . (Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)