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Contura Announces First Quarter 2019 Results

May 15, 2019 - Contura Energy, Inc. (CTRA), a leading U.S. coal supplier, today reported results for the first quarter ending March 31, 2019.

"Following Contura's transformational merger in the fourth quarter of last year, resulting in the largest metallurgical coal portfolio in the U.S., we placed substantial focus this past quarter on buttressing the company's already solid balance sheet and unlocking additional cash generation potential for our shareholders," said board chairman Neale Trangucci. "Today, we are pleased to announce commitments to refinance our outstanding term loan facility, which provides our company with significantly greater flexibility to allocate capital to maximize shareholder value."

With regard to the first quarter results, Mark Manno, interim co-chief executive officer and chief administrative & legal officer and secretary said, "As we worked to integrate our expanded asset portfolio over the past quarter and a half, certain operational challenges arose that negatively impacted production efficiency, particularly at one of our CAPP - Met complexes, while a temporary, partial idling of one of our CAPP - Thermal mines was required to bring mine infrastructure up to Contura standards. Both issues are being addressed to better position these assets for long-term success."

"These factors, along with softer than anticipated sales volumes due to pricing dynamics alluded to on our last earnings call, converged this past quarter to result in performance that trended below our expectations," added Andy Eidson, interim co-chief executive officer and chief financial officer. "We do not believe these issues reflect fundamental changes in our business or assets, and have already implemented measures to remediate these issues over the current and remaining quarters of 2019. While we anticipate costs to revert to our previously forecasted run rate before year end, we are revising our cost guidance slightly to better reflect updated full-year expectations."

Financial Performance

Results for the first quarter of 2019 include the full quarter impact of the Alpha merger, which closed in November 2018. The Trading and Logistics (T&L) segment sales in the first quarter of 2018 were largely driven by Alpha-related shipments, which are now included in the Central Appalachia Met (CAPP - Met) segment for the first quarter of this year.

Contura reported net income from continuing operations of $8.0 million, or $0.41 per diluted share, for the first quarter 2019. In the first quarter 2018, the company had net income from continuing operations of $58.3 million or $5.66 per diluted share.

Total adjusted EBITDA was $83.4 million for the first quarter, compared with $99.0 million in the prior year quarter, adjusted to remove the impact of discontinued operations. The first quarter 2019 EBITDA was negatively influenced by three primary factors that the company does not consider fundamental in their nature. First, the Marfork complex encountered less productive mining conditions than expected, resulting in an EBITDA impact of approximately $15 million. The issues affecting Marfork are being addressed and the complex is expected to improve its cost structure in the second half of the year. Second, our met shipment volumes were approximately 400,000 tons below our internal estimates, lowering EBITDA by approximately $13 million. The company expects to recoup this shipment volume by the end of the year. Third, the Central Appalachia Thermal (CAPP - Thermal) segment EBITDA was negatively impacted by approximately $13 million due primarily to infrastructure issues within the Mammoth complex, where half of a mine's productive capacity was idled for the quarter as we brought it up to the company's operational standards. The mine returned to normal production levels in April.

Total revenues in the first quarter were $609.1 million. Coal revenues in the first quarter, excluding freight and handling fulfillment revenues, were $529.8 million, with CAPP - Met coal revenues accounting for $345.8 million, CAPP - Thermal totaling $57.3 million, T&L accounting for $55.8 million, and Northern Appalachia (NAPP) coal revenues totaling $70.9 million. Comparatively, in the first quarter 2018, CAPP revenues were $134.6 million, T&L revenues were $206.7 million, and NAPP revenues were $61.5 million of the $402.7 million in total coal revenues.

CAPP - Met coal shipments for the first quarter 2019 were 2.8 million tons at an average per-ton realization of $123.68, compared to 1.0 million tons at $141.06 per ton in the prior year first quarter. CAPP - Thermal coal shipments totaled 1.0 million tons in the first quarter, at an average price of $57.78 per ton. Contura shipped 1.7 million tons of NAPP coal during the quarter at an average per-ton realization of $42.89, an increase from 1.4 million tons at $43.46 per ton in the first quarter 2018. In the T&L segment, coal volumes decreased from 1.4 million tons in the prior year period to 0.4 million tons in the first quarter 2019, primarily due to the shift from Alpha-related T&L tons to the captive CAPP - Met segment. The average T&L realization decreased from $142.63 per ton in the prior year's first quarter to $124.80 per ton during first quarter 2019.

The cost of coal sales in CAPP - Met for the quarter averaged $92.90 per ton, up from $80.45 per ton in the prior year period. The cost of produced coal sold was $87.96 per ton compared with $75.73 per ton in the first quarter of 2018. The cost of produced coal sold excludes the impact from purchased coal, coal inventory fair value adjustment and idle costs. The main drivers of higher than expected CAPP - Met costs were increased use of purchased coal, which impacted the cost of coal sales per ton by approximately $2.00 and production issues at the Marfork operations due to lower than planned clean tons per foot, further increasing cost of coal sales by approximately $3.00 per ton. Among operating categories, labor and benefits contributed approximately $2.00 to higher costs, mainly via a qualified, non-elective 401(k) contribution, and supplies and maintenance added approximately $2.00 per ton. Idle costs of $0.54 per ton are also included in CAPP - Met cost of coal sales for the first quarter of 2019.

NAPP costs of $40.49 per ton were impacted by a longwall move in March, reducing production volume. NAPP costs include idle costs of $0.50 per ton. In the year ago period, NAPP cost of coal sales averaged $38.05 per ton. CAPP - Thermal cost of coal sales was $65.61 per ton in the first quarter and $61.86 per ton for cost of produced coal tons sold, which excludes the impact from purchased coal, coal inventory fair value adjustment and idle costs. CAPP - Thermal costs were negatively impacted by infrastructure issues at the Mammoth Slabcamp mine. The resulting reduction in production volume had nearly an $8.00 per ton impact on cost of coal sales. The Slabcamp mine resumed full production on April 22. In the T&L segment, the cost of coal sales during the first quarter 2019 was $101.32 per ton versus $113.54 per ton in the first quarter 2018.

Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses for the first quarter 2019 were $21.0 million compared with $19.2 million in the year-ago period. The first quarter 2019 SG&A included non-cash stock compensation of $3.7 million, one-time expenses of $0.9 million and a qualified non-elective 401(k) contribution of $0.7 million, and excluding these items SG&A was $15.7 million. The year-ago period included approximately $4.5 million in non-cash stock compensation, $2.7 million in management restructuring costs and $0.5 qualified non-elective 401(k) contribution. Depreciation, depletion and amortization was $61.3 million during the first quarter 2019 compared with $11.6 million in the same period last year, excluding discontinued operations. The increase is due to purchase accounting adjustments made in recording the Alpha merger.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

Cash provided by operating activities for the first quarter 2019, including discontinued operations, was $14.6 million and capital expenditures for the first quarter were $41.1 million. Working capital was the main use of cash during the first quarter, with accounts receivable and inventory builds of $27.1 million and $23.1 million, respectively. We expect the working capital build to reverse over the next several months as accounts receivable and inventory balances normalize. An accounts payable decrease also reduced cash by approximately $4.7 million. In the prior year period, the cash used in operating activities was $30.3 million and capital expenditures were $19.4 million.

At the end of March 2019, Contura had $182.0 million in unrestricted cash and $297.7 million in restricted cash, deposits and long-term investments. Total long-term debt, including the current portion of long-term debt as of March 31, 2019, was approximately $583.5 million.  At the end of the quarter, the company had total liquidity of $378.3 million, including cash and cash equivalents of $182.0 million and $196.3 million of unused commitments available under the Asset-Based Revolving Credit Facility. As of March 31, 2019, the company had no borrowings and $28.7 million in letters of credit outstanding under the Asset-Based Revolving Credit Facility.

Debt Refinancing

The company has obtained commitments for a new, 5-year $555 million first lien facility to refinance its existing First Lien Term Loan B. The interest rate is expected to be LIBOR plus 700bps for the first two years after closing and increasing to LIBOR plus 800 bps thereafter, with a LIBOR floor of 2.00%. The new facility is fully committed, underwritten and will be provided principally by certain of Contura's existing shareholders. The terms of the new facility offer more flexibility for Contura to return capital to shareholders by allowing for an unlimited restricted payments basket while the company's total leverage is 3.0x or less.

Capital Return Program

Contura's board of directors has adopted a capital return program, under which the company plans to return up to an aggregate amount of $250 million of capital to shareholders. The capital return program will not have a fixed expiration date, and may be in the form of dividends, share repurchases, or a combination thereof. Any share repurchase may be made from time to time through open market transactions, block trades, privately negotiated transactions, tender offers, or otherwise.

Any dividends to be paid, or share repurchases to be made pursuant to the capital return program, will be at the discretion of the board and are subject to market and business conditions, levels of available liquidity, the company's cash needs, restrictions in debt or other agreements or obligations, legal or regulatory requirements or restrictions, and other relevant factors.

Lynn Branch Project

The company's board of directors has approved investment in a new metallurgical coal project in Logan County, West Virginia, unlocking a high-quality, High Vol met coal reserve of over 25 million tons. The project is expected to produce approximately 1 million to 1.2 million tons annually at its full estimated run rate, with a projected cash cost per ton in the low $60 range. The capital allocation required to bring the project online is estimated at approximately $25 million to $30 million and does not require an increase to previously guided capital expenditures. Production is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2020.

Leadership Transition

As previously announced, Contura's prior chief executive officer, Kevin Crutchfield, left the company, effective May 6, in order to pursue an opportunity outside of the coal industry. Subsequently, the company's board of directors appointed Andy Eidson, Contura's executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Mark Manno, Contura's executive vice president, chief administrative and legal officer and secretary, as interim co-chief executive officers, effective May 7, as it conducts a search process to identify Contura's next permanent CEO. No further changes to the company's executive leadership are expected.

2019 Full-Year Guidance

The company maintains its total 2019 coal shipments guidance of 24.6 million to 26.7 million tons. CAPP - Met coal guidance remains at 12.2 million to 12.8 million tons, with the T&L segment remaining at 1.0 million to 1.5 million tons. NAPP shipments are expected to remain between 6.8 million and 7.2 million tons in 2019. The guidance range for CAPP - Thermal shipments is unchanged at 4.6 million to 5.2 million tons.

As of May 7, 2019, 61 percent of the midpoint of anticipated 2019 CAPP - Met shipments were committed and priced at an average expected per-ton realization of $125.68, with an additional 17 percent committed and priced based on various indices. Based on the midpoint of guidance, 100 percent of anticipated 2019 NAPP coal shipments were committed and priced at an average expected per-ton realization of $43.12. The CAPP - Thermal segment is 90 percent committed at the midpoint of expected shipments at an average price of $55.16 per ton.

Contura is increasing guidance for 2019 CAPP - Met cost of coal sales per ton to $83.00 to $87.00 to reflect the impact of the first quarter cost variance, as well as increased purchase coal tons, higher labor, supplies and maintenance costs, and continued strength in the metallurgical coal markets leading to higher realizations and subsequently higher sales-related expenses than originally anticipated. CAPP - Thermal costs are now anticipated to be between $52.00 and $57.00 per ton, reflecting the impact of the first quarter costs related to the infrastructure issues at Mammoth Slabcamp discussed earlier. NAPP cost estimates remain in the range of $34.00 to $37.00 per ton. Additionally, costs related to the company's idle operations are expected to be between $26 million and $30 million for the full-year 2019.

The margin from Contura's T&L platform is expected to average between $8 to $12 per ton for the full-year 2019.

Contura's SG&A guidance is estimated at $50 million to $60 million, excluding one-time and non-recurring items and stock compensation. Capital expenditure guidance is unchanged in the range of $170 million to $190 million. Depreciation, depletion and amortization for 2019 is expected to be between $240 million and $270 million. The company expects 2019 cash interest expense to be between $40 million and $44 million.


Contura Energy (CTRA) is a Tennessee-based coal supplier with affiliate mining operations across major coal basins in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. With customers across the globe, high-quality reserves and significant port capacity, Contura Energy reliably supplies both metallurgical coal to produce steel and thermal coal to generate power. 

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