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Walter Energy and Vale Are Digging Out

WLT Revenue Quarterly Chart WLT Revenue Quarterly data by YCharts

Walter Energy (WLT - Get Report)

Background: Walter Energy produces and exports metallurgical coal for the steel industry primarily in the United States. The company also produces thermal and industrial coal, anthracite, metallurgical coke, coal bed methane gas, and other related products. It principally serves electric utility and industrial customers.

52-Week Range: $9.88 to $41.32

Coal has truly been a four-letter word during the current administration. The thing about politics is that the pendulum swings both ways and has a tendency to revert to the mean if averaged over enough time.

Based on insider buying, the C-suite and directors believe the pendulum will start reverting soon. Within the last six months, insiders have reportedly bought over 116,000 shares, and no one has sold. I don't fully subscribe to the concept that insiders sell for many reasons, but I do believe they buy for only one reason, namely to make money.

Insider buying alone isn't enough to get me excited about a stock, though. After all, their business card doesn't say "market timer" on it. But all else being equal, insiders have the best vantage point of anyone. Another reason to discount insider buying sometimes is because companies can offer incentives for reporting insiders to make purchases.

What I do like about the chart is the quick recovery after the dividend was cut. The share price gapped lower and continued to fall, but quickly bounced after testing the $10 price support area.

TheStreet's Bret Kenwell wrote a "Fast Money" recap with Tim Seymour stating Walter Energy is making a breakout move. I concur, but I will add that if you keep the powder dry and sit on your hands for a few days, you should be able to add this one for under $13.

Along with cutting the dividend, which is already priced in, the company is targeting a small amount of asset sales to shore up the balance sheet. In this environment, it makes sense for Vale to keep all options available. In the same way, Vale's fortunes are tied to world commodity prices so is Walter Energy's. As the world economy improves, demand from Asia (again think China) should increase, lifting world coal prices, even if United States demand remains tepid.

The level of short interest is where Walter Energy truly becomes compelling. The short interest is altitudinous at 46.6%. There is no doubt short-sellers believe this miner's shares will dig deeper. Keep in mind that short sellers don't always get it right. Another company that had just as much short interest was Tesla (TSLA) just a few short months ago.

Tesla's price chart shows what can happen when too many short-sellers pile on the train and a stock becomes an overnight sensation. Walter Energy probably won't experience such a rapid rise, but it is possible.

WLT Payout Ratio TTM Chart WLT Payout Ratio TTM data by YCharts

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Robert Weinstein is an active trader focusing on the psychological importance of risk mitigation, emotion and financial behavior of market participants. Robert co-founded the investing blog StockSaints, where he writes a journal about his trading activity and experiences.

In addition to TheStreet, Robert also contributes to Real Money Pro, providing real-time trading ideas for stocks, options and futures.

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