Arch Coal Hikes Outlook

Arch Coal lifts its profit guidance for 2010.
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ST. LOUIS (TheStreet) -- Arch Coal (ACI) - Get Report fell short of profit expectations for its first quarter, but the miner, helped by an upsurge in global demand for coal used in steelmaking, lifted its financial guidance for the rest of 2010.

Arch Coal is now targeting per-share earnings for the year of $1.00 to $1.40, excluding charges, better than the 89 cents a share that analysts had forecast.

In a statement, Arch Coal CEO Steven Leer said the company expects strengthening results to quicken in the second half of the year.

"We will benefit from an improved forward price curve for Powder River Basin coal," the region in Montana that supplies a large portion of the coal used in the nation's power generators, "and as we ramp up metallurgical coal sales in response to robust global steel market conditions," Leer said.

The company expects to record earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $770 million to $790 million for the full year 2010. It sees sales volumes, meanwhile of between 147 million to 155 million tons.

For the first quarter, Arch Coal said adjusted earnings came to $5 million, or 3 cents a share, worse than the 8 cents a share that analysts were expecting. Including non-cash charges for the amortization of coal supply agreements, Arch lost money, posting red ink of $1.8 million, or a penny a share.

Arch earned $30.6 million, or 21 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2009.

Revenue in the quarter came to about $712 million, up from the year-ago period's $618 million.

It's been a rough year so far for the coal industry, after the explosion that killed 29 miners at a

Massey Energy

(MEE)

mine in West Virginia earlier this month.

In its quarterly earnings release, Arch dedicated a long, conspicuous section, under the subtitle "Core Values," that addressed its "industry-leading" safety record.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.