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Brokerage Bernstein: 3 Low-Cost Coal Stocks Poised to Rise

Brokerage Bernstein: 3 Low-Cost Coal Stocks Poised to Rise

By    |   Thursday, 21 November 2019 09:34 AM

Brokerage firm Bernstein recently advised savvy investors that coal stocks could rise before the industry ultimately falls.

“At a time when lithium-ion batteries and their applications are generating such attention, it is worth flagging that coal is, in all meaningful respects, a battery,” Analyst Paul Gait wrote, according to Barron’s.

To be sure, Barron’s explained that coal, “the original fossil fuel, gets no love. It is among the forces blamed for climate change and is being phased out of power generation around the globe—replaced by renewable electricity generators such as windmills and solar panels. It is a declining industry that has few political defenders.”

Gait contends that the coal industry isn’t dead yet, especially since energy transitions—like moving from fossil fuel to renewable resources—take generations, in his view.

As for valuation, you can buy a dollar of cash flow for a nickel and in general, coal investments are incredibly cheap.

Large U.S. coal producers Barron’s suggested — including Peabody Energy (ticker: BTU), Arch Coal (ARCH), and Alliance Resource Partners (ALRP) — trade for about 4 times estimated 2020 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, or Ebitda. The S&P 500, in comparison, trades for almost 12 times estimated Ebitda.

Coal companies also still pay dividends, with an average yield for the firms we identified of about 10%. The three larger firms—Peabody, Arch and Alliance—yield 6%, 2% and 18%, respectively.

However, Bloomberg recently reported that the world’s attempts to quit coal are failing. Whatever rich nations do to move away from the dirtiest fossil fuel, those efforts are being outpaced by developing Asian countries seeking a cheap and reliable source of power.

Global coal demand rose for a second consecutive year in 2018, the International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Outlook, which plots different scenarios of future energy use. Three quarters of that demand was in the Asia Pacific region.

On the other hand, more than 500 investors with $35 trillion of assets recently called on governments to take more action to combat climate change.

“Climate change is such a critical issue for investors’ portfolios and there are so many risks associated with it and also huge opportunities,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive officer of the London-based Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, one of the groups that signed a joint letter to leaders.

“The right kinds of policies will help direct capital in an appropriate way so we are able to tackle the issue of climate change from an environmental perspective, but also safeguard portfolios,” Bloomberg quoted the letter as saying.

Rising temperatures has massive implications for investors. Clean energy investment is set to hit $2.6 trillion this decade, according to research by BloombergNEF, and that might not be close to enough to reduce the risks to the environment. The world must invest $2.4 trillion in clean energy every year through 2035 and cut the use of coal-fired power to almost nothing by 2050 to avoid catastrophic damage from climate change, scientists for the UN reported last year.

This report uses material from the AP, Bloomberg and Reuters.

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Brokerage firm Bernstein recently advised savvy investors that coal stocks could rise before the industry ultimately falls.
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Thursday, 21 November 2019 09:34 AM
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