Yanzhou Coal Mining Co, the country's fourth-largest coal producer, expects its net profit in the third quarter to fall more than 55 percent from a year earlier, weighed down by likely lower prices and production volume.
The Shandong-based coal miner plans to produce 35.05 million tons of coal this year, or 6.7 percent less than last year's actual output, its chief financial officer said during a conference call.
Yanzhou Coal reported last week that its first-half net income fell 48 percent, dragged down by slumping coal sales as the economic slowdown cut demand for the fuel.
Its net profit dropped to 2.03 billion yuan, or 0.41 yuan a share, from 3.91 billion yuan, or 0.80 yuan, a year earlier, the company said last week.
Some of Yanzhou Coal's mines and petrochemical plants in northern China and Australia might miss annual production goals because of the government's safety checks on mining operations and "weak demand for chemicals", Chief Financial Officer Wu Yuxiang said.
But analysts said the coal miner's performance could improve in the second half due to revival of the steel industry, which is a major customer of its coal.
"As the steel industry reopens more mills in the second half of this year, its sales outlook and the price of its coal is expected to improve accordingly," said Li Ran, an analyst at Guosen Securities.
Its profit growth, Li said, "is therefore expected to improve".
Institutional investors, however, are divided about the coal miner's prospects.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, a QFII (qualified foreign institutional investor), has shown interest in Yanzhou Coal despite its poor performance in the first half, which is in stark contrast to its peers as many of them have reported profit growth.
The trust, which entered China in 2004, has an investment quota of $100 million. It currently owns 200.01 million shares, or 0.04 percent, of Yanzhou Coal shares as of June 30, becoming one of the 10 biggest shareholders, according to Yanzhou's financial report.
A fund managed by Fortune SGAM Fund Management Co Ltd sharply cut its holdings in the coal miner, selling 8.96 million shares in the second quarter, the report said.
Yanzhou Coal, listed in Shanghai and Hong Kong, recently agreed to buy Australian coal miner Felix Resources Ltd for $2.9 billion, the company said earlier this month.
The proposed takeover, if approved, would be China's largest purchase in Australia.
The acquisition of Felix, which has mines in Queensland and New South Wales states and produced 4.8 million tons of coal in the year to June, would boost Yanzhou's output by about 10 percent, analysts said.
(China Daily August 26, 2009)