National Coal’s loss widens

National Coal’s loss widens

Higher costs and a weak pricing environment resulted in widening fourth-quarter losses for National Coal Corp.

The Knoxville-based company on Friday reported that net losses more than doubled in the quarter to $7.8 million, on revenues of $21.5 million. In the same period last year, the company had losses of $3.2 million on revenues of $20.2 million.

In a news release, the company said the cost of sales per ton increased by $5.87, largely because of inefficiencies in the early phase of starting three new mines, operating a refurbished wash plant and starting a short-line railroad.

For the full year, the company’s net loss was $24.5 million, or $1.59 a share, on revenues of $87.5 million.

The company saw a surge in sales during 2006, but toward the end of the year the weak pricing environment was an obstacle to committing additional tonnage to the market, National Coal president and CEO Daniel Roling said in a statement.

“Capital projects undertaken during the year were designed to support future increases in production, lower costs, and maximize the company’s opportunities for future organic growth,” he said. “We are now prepared to increase coal production by a meaningful amount without significant additional capital expenditures.”

Shares in National Coal were down more than 3 percent, to $4.64, at 9:45 this morning. The stock’s 52-week range is between $4.42 and $12.18.

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