Zacks Analyst Interview Highlights: Arch Coal, Peabody Energy, Consol, Penn Virginia and Natural Resource Partners

Zacks.com releases the latest Analyst Interview. Todays interview is with senior analyst Matthew Thurmond, who discusses Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI), Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), Consol (NYSE: CNX), Penn Virginia (NYSE: PVR) and Natural Resource Partners (NYSE: NRP).

A synopsis of todays Analyst Interview is presented below. The full article can be read at http://at.zacks.com/?id=2678.

How has your coal coverage been performing lately?

Only one of my companies, Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI) has reported third quarter earnings. The results were lower than expected, but management predicted a rally in coal priced going into 2008. They cited a recent increase in electric demand and a drop in utility coal inventories. We lowered our full-year 2007 EPS estimate to $1.10 from about $1.15 previously due to the lower than expected third quarter results.

Do you have a favorite Buy recommendation in the coal group?

No. Not at this point. All three of the miners I cover are Hold rated: Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), Arch and Consol (NYSE: CNX). I see continued headwinds going forward and think the stocks are fairly priced.

Aside from miners, I cover two MLPs in the coal sector. These are yield vehicles that are set up as partnerships and generate most of their income through royalty fees charged to miners. Currently, I have a Hold on Penn Virginia (NYSE: PVR) and a Sell on Natural Resource Partners (NYSE: NRP).

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The performance of the Zacks Rank portfolios shown above for annual and year-to-date periods are the linked monthly total returns (price changes + dividends) of equal weighted hypothetical portfolios, consisting of those stocks with the indicated Zacks Rank, assuming monthly rebalancing and zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios. The hypothetical portfolios were created at the beginning of each month from Jan 1988 forward based on the values of the Zacks Rank available to Zacks' clients before the beginning of each month. The portfolios created monthly from 1988 through September 2006 exclude ADRs and are comprised of stocks that have the indicated Zacks Rank and were covered by at least two analysts at the time of the stocks inclusion in the portfolio. Starting in October 2006 and going forward, the portfolios are comprised of all stocks with the indicated Zacks Rank and do not exclude ADRs, which is more reflective of the list of stocks that customers will find on the Zacks web sites. 2007 returns are for the period of Jan 1 Jun 30, 2007. These performance numbers have been audited from 1995 through 2003 by Autschuler Melovan, a division of American Express Financial.

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