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Arch: Fourth-quarter production levels below expectations

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Arch Coal notified investors and analysts Jan. 21 that lower-than-planned shipment levels in the Powder River Basin and reduced production levels at the Mountain Laurel complex in Appalachia will affect its fourth quarter 2013 financial results.   

Arch's fourth-quarter 2013 shipment levels in the Powder River Basin decreased by more than 15 percent from third quarter levels due to rail service issues on the Joint Line,the company said. Shipments fell because Arch's current mix of sales contracts skews more heavily toward customers utilizing the rail operator with the majority of the shortfall. The lower-than-expected shipments in the fourth quarter caused thermal volumes for 2013 to be below the company's previous expectations.

"Although rail disruptions impacted our PRB operations in the fourth quarter, we would expect to make up a majority of those shipments during 2014 as rail service improves throughout the year," said John W. Eaves, Arch's president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.

At the Laurel Mountain complex, fourth quarter 2013 production at the mine decreased by 40 percent as compared to third quarter levels. As a result, the company's full year 2013 metallurgical coal sales volumes were slightly below the low end of its previous expectations.

Arch Coal's fourth quarter 2013 earnings release will be issued before the market opens on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Management's conference call with analysts is scheduled for 10 a.m. that day.