(Corrects paragraph four to say Peabody cut its dividend, while Arch Coal suspended it. Removes incorrect reference to Walter “following in the footsteps” of both companies)
Feb 17 (Reuters) - U.S. coal miner Walter Energy Inc reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss as it sold less metallurgical coal after suspending mining operations in Canada.
Volumes of metallurgical coal, used in the steel-making process, fell to 2 million metric tons (MMTs) from 2.9 MMTs a year earlier, the company said.
Walter Energy also forecast metallurgical coal sales to fall to 8.5 MMTs to 9 MMTs in 2015 from $9.7 MMTs in 2014, helping to send its shares down more than 8 percent to $1.00 in premarket trading on Tuesday.
The company suspended its quarterly dividend last month to improve “financial flexibility”. Arch Coal Inc has also suspended its dividend, while Peabody Energy Corp has slashed its payout.
U.S. coal miners have been slashing costs to offset persistently weak coal prices caused by sluggish demand from Europe and Asia, especially China.
Walter Energy’s cost of sales fell 26.5 percent to $275.2 million in the quarter.
The company’s net loss narrowed to $128.1 million, or $1.83 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $174.3 million, or $2.79 per share, a year earlier.
However, Walter Energy posted a quarterly loss of $1.97 per share on an adjusted basis, bigger than the analysts’ average estimate of $1.59, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue fell 39.5 percent to $285.6 million, well below the average analyst estimate of $326.6 million.
Walter Energy’s stock had fallen about 90 percent in the past 12 months to its close of $1.09 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. (Reporting By Manya Venkatesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)