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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: June 21

4. Walter's Wild Ride

WTF Walter (WLT)? If you are going to dig a hole for yourself, at least pull some coal out of it.

Shares of Walter Energy sank over 17% last Friday after the Birmingham, Ala.-based coal producer abruptly abandoned a planned $1.55 billion credit refinancing. The company's stock started tumbling after a Forbes report released slightly after 12:30 pm said the deal was yanked because of "market conditions." The stock was halted a little more than an hour later pending news from the company, and in limbo it remained until a few minutes prior to Friday's close when the company finally came out with a statement.

Why it took Walter so long to comment when the market was freaking out, frankly, we have no idea. And when Walter eventually did come out of its hole, all it said was that it had "no material debt principal payments due until 2015, and it requires no incremental funding at this time."

Yep, that was the extent of it. No comment on the supposedly rocky conditions and no excuse whatsoever for not getting the deal done.

To which we say: Come on guys! The least you can do is lie to us. Or perhaps blame your investment bank for bungling the job. After all, Morgan Stanley (MS) did lead the offering and we all remember what a swell job they did last year with Facebook's (FB) IPO. (Maybe Morgan felt a little guilty about Walter's wacking. On Tuesday it reiterated its $47 price target for Walter, sending the stock up 16.5% to $13.63.)

By now these folks should know that the market abhors an information vacuum, even while the market's gossips love it. As soon as Walter waltzed away from the deal, all those yentas started yapping about Walter's cash situation and its ability to remain a going concern.

And let's be serious, it's not like the company is going out of business, no matter what the bears (and with over a quarter of the shares sold short, there are a lot of them out there) were slinging last Friday. Walter has plenty of cash for the time being, $235 million at last check, and once again, this deal was about refinancing, not raising money. Wall Street analysts expect the company to earn 51 cents next year, even if they are forecasting a loss of $1.82 in 2013.

Look. It's quite clear that the Obama administration hates the coal industry and would rather sacrifice those jobs for the sake of the ozone layer and the green lobby. It's also apparent that the downturn in metallurgical coal prices is not helping them during these dark days when coal stocks are getting clobbered.

Both good reasons for Walter not to help the shortsellers' cause by raking itself over its very own coals.
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