Alpha Natural Earnings Rise

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Appalachian coal producer

Alpha Natural Resources

(ANR)

said Thursday its third-quarter earnings rose 77.1% from the year-ago period.

The Abingdon, Va.-based company earned $14.5 million, or 23 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $8.2 million, or 13 cents a share, a year ago. Third-quarter results include stock-based compensation charge of 5 cents a share and a pre-tax charge of about penny a share related to a realignment of the Brooks Run operations in central West Virginia. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 26 cents a share in the most recent quarter.

Third-quarter revenue rose 19.4% from a year ago to $474.7 million as against analysts' estimation of $457.6 million.

Revenue from coal rose 21% from the year-ago period to $419 million with the increase coming from the Nicewonder operations acquired in October 2005 and the Progress Energy mines acquired in May this year.

Coal margin was $10.57 a ton in the quarter, compared with $6.95 a ton in the year-ago period.

Produced and processed tons increased 23% to 6.2 million tons in the quarter with the increase coming from the acquired Callaway and Progress Surface mines. Total coal sales increased 11% to 7.4 million tons.

"Alpha has continued to perform well year-over-year, with improved results across all our key financial metrics. We've also managed to sustain our industry-leading margins even as mild weather and utility inventory builds have softened the steam coal market," the company said.

Third-quarter operating income rose 62.3% from a year ago to $29.4 million and operating margin improved 160 basis points to 6.2%.

Shares were up 24 cents, or 1.6%, at $15.31 Thursday.

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