Oxford lost $6.3 million, or $0.30/share, in the quarter, tripling a loss of $2.1 million, or $0.18/share, a year ago. Higher diesel fuel costs joined with the storms to deal the company’s bottom line a double blow.
Oxford blamed the dispiriting spring weather, especially in April and May, for costing the Columbus-based company about 140,000 tons of lost production in the three-month period ending June 30. Still, Oxford’s output hit 2 million tons in the quarter, up from 1.8 million tons a year earlier. The increase was credited primarily to a 57.3% rise in production from its Illinois Basin operations in western Kentucky. If not for the bad weather conditions, second-quarter production would have finished 20% higher than the comparable period of 2010.
Sales volume totaled 2.1 million tons for both the second quarter of 2011 and the preceding year. Excluding transportation, Oxford’s average per-ton sales price inched up 5.4% to $40/ton in the latest quarter compared with $37.94 in the second quarter of 2010. The increase was attributed mainly to higher contracted sales prices realized from the company’s Northern Appalachian mines and changes in customer mix.
“We continued to face severe weather-related delays and unprecedented flooding on the Ohio and Green rivers, particularly in the months of April and May, which significantly hampered production, sales and, ultimately, our profitability,” said Charles Ungurean, Oxford president and CEO, during a conference call to discuss earnings.
The poor, weather-impacted mining conditions negatively affected Oxford’s production by about 190,000 tons for the first half of 2011, thereby driving up per-ton costs. “As a result of both lost production and adverse weather, we were unable to ship to our river customers approximately 160,000 tons during the second quarter and approximately 330,000 tons during the first half of the year,” he said.
To help make up some of the shortfall, the company leased up to $8 million in equipment to boost production by up to 30,000 tons per month starting in August. Ungurean said it was not certain that Oxford could make up all of the lost production. Oxford, which went public in the United States last year and is organized as a master limited partnership, sells coal to electric utilities in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Looking ahead, Ungurean voiced confidence that Oxford’s performance would improve in the last half of this year. “Global thermal coal demand and pricing dynamics are strengthening, aided by strong exports to meet rising demand,” he said. “At the same time, the changing production profile in the U.S. coal market favors our producing regions of Northern Appalachia and the Illinois Basin.” Oxford, he added, is “well-positioned with a fully contracted sales portfolio for the rest of 2011 and are 85 percent contracted in 2012 at increasing price levels.”
Oxford produced 7.4 million tons of coal in 2010. At the end of last year, it controlled 93.5 million tons of proven and probable reserves.