Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. Rebound Continued in the Fourth Quarter 2020 With Sequential Increases to Coal Volumes, Revenues, Net Income and EBITDA
February 1, 2021 - Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. (NASDAQ: ARLP) today reported improved financial and operating performance for the quarter ended December 31, 2020 (the "2020 Quarter") compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2020 (the "Sequential Quarter"). Increased coal sales and oil & gas royalty revenues drove total consolidated revenues higher by 3.1% to $ 366.5 million compared to the Sequential Quarter. Higher revenues led to increased net income and EBITDA, which rose 28.8% to $35.0 million and 2.1% to $121.4 million, respectively, each compared to the Sequential Quarter. (Unless otherwise noted, all references in the text of this release to "net income (loss)" refer to "net income (loss) attributable to ARLP." For a definition of EBITDA and related reconciliation to the comparable GAAP financial measure, please see the end of this release.)
Total revenues in the 2020 Quarter were 19.2% lower compared to the quarter ended December 31, 2019 (the "2019 Quarter"), reflecting the impacts of reduced global energy demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Lower revenues were more than offset by ARLP’s expense reduction initiatives implemented during 2020 in response to the pandemic, leading to a 35.6% increase in net income for the 2020 Quarter compared to the 2019 Quarter. EBITDA declined by 3.8% compared to the 2019 Quarter due to lower oil & gas volumes and prices in the 2020 Quarter.
ARLP’s performance and results for the year ended December 31, 2020 (the "2020 Year") were also impacted by the effects of pandemic-related disruptions. Compared to the year ended December 31, 2019 (the "2019 Year"), total revenues for the 2020 Year decreased 32.3% to $1.33 billion. Lower revenues and a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $132.0 million, partially offset by lower operating expenses, resulted in a net loss of $129.2 million. This compares to net income of $399.4 million for the 2019 Year, which included a non-cash net gain of $170.0 million related to the AllDale Acquisition. Excluding the impact of non-cash items, Adjusted net income and Adjusted EBITDA for the 2020 Year decreased to $27.8 million and $386.7 million, respectively, compared to $244.6 million and $599.0 million, respectively, for the 2019 Year. (For definitions of Adjusted net income and Adjusted EBITDA and related reconciliations to comparable GAAP financial measures, please see the end of this release.)
"I am extremely proud of ARLP’s performance and accomplishments during the unprecedented turmoil we experienced in 2020," said Joseph W. Craft III, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Amid the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, ARLP’s operating teams performed heroically to ensure that our essential coal production remained available to our customers to protect the reliability of the life-sustaining, critical infrastructure of the electric grid supporting the communities we serve. Our coal operations demonstrated their flexibility and resiliency by adjusting production in response to rapidly changing circumstances, all while implementing enhanced health and safety protocols designed to mitigate the impact of the virus. Despite the disruptions encountered during the year, through their decisive actions our coal mining operations delivered the best safety results in ARLP’s history.”
Mr. Craft added, "Throughout the year, the entire Alliance organization remained laser-focused on protecting our financial position and liquidity by optimizing cash flow, reducing debt and working capital and controlling capital expenditures and expenses, which yielded impressive results. During 2020, ARLP –
Reduced capital expenditures by 60.4% or $184.8 million Reduced operating expenses by 27.2% or $322.4 million Reduced G&A expense by 18.1% or $13.2 million
Reduced total debt and finance lease obligations by 24.9% or $197.1 million Reduced working capital by 23.0% or $31.6 million
Generated $279.5 million of free cash flow, an increase of 33.7% Increased liquidity by 80.7% or $219.9 million
The sacrifices and tireless efforts of our employees kept ARLP strong during the uncertainties of 2020 and have us well positioned entering 2021." (For a definition of free cash flow and related reconciliation to the comparable GAAP financial measure, please see the end of this release.)
Financial and Liquidity Update
Our ongoing efforts to optimize cash flows, reduce working capital requirements and strictly control capital expenditures and expenses continue to yield positive benefits. During the 2020 Quarter, ARLP generated free cash flow of $90.6 million, reduced debt and finance lease obligations by $67.8 million and increased liquidity by $70.2 million. We ended 2020 with total leverage of 1.53 times, a 9.5% improvement from the Sequential Quarter, keeping ARLP comfortably in compliance with all debt covenants, including its total leverage covenant of 2.5 times.
As previously announced, the Board of Directors of ARLP's general partner (the "Board") suspended the cash distribution to unitholders for the 2020 Quarter. The Board intends to reassess its distribution policy at its meeting following the quarter ending March 31, 2021. Future unitholder distributions will be subject to ongoing board review of a number of factors including business and market conditions, ARLP’s future financial and operating performance outlook and other capital allocation priorities.
ARLP’s coal sales volumes increased in both the Illinois Basin and Appalachian regions compared to the Sequential Quarter, leading total coal sales volumes in the 2020 Quarter higher by 4.8% to 8.1 million tons. Illinois Basin coal sales volumes increased 5.2% on higher volumes at our Hamilton and Warrior mines compared to the Sequential Quarter. In Appalachia, coal sales volumes increased 4.1% compared to the Sequential Quarter primarily due to higher sales from our MC Mining operation which completed development of its new mine mid-way through the Sequential Quarter. Compared to the 2019 Quarter, total coal sales volumes decreased 14.4% in the 2020 Quarter primarily due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced export shipments. ARLP’s focus on reducing coal inventories and matching production to meet customer requirements resulted in total coal inventory falling to 0.6 million tons at the end of the 2020 Quarter, compared to 1.8 million tons and 1.2 million tons at the end of the 2019 and Sequential Quarters, respectively.
Total coal sales price per ton in the 2020 Quarter fell 1.8% compared to the Sequential Quarter due to a 3.5% reduction in Appalachia as a result of lower price realizations at our Tunnel Ridge operation. Total coal sales price per ton was relatively unchanged in the 2020 Quarter compared to the 2019 Quarter. In the Illinois Basin, coal sales price per ton in the 2020 Quarter increased by 3.8% compared to the 2019 Quarter due to improved price realizations at our Hamilton mine. In Appalachia, price realizations decreased by 8.4% compared to the 2019 Quarter primarily due to weak market conditions and the absence of high-priced metallurgical sales volumes in the 2020 Quarter.
Ongoing expense control initiatives at all operations drove total Segment Adjusted EBITDA Expense per ton in the 2020 Quarter lower compared to both the Sequential and 2019 Quarters, falling by 2.3% and 11.4%, respectively. In Appalachia, Segment Adjusted EBITDA Expense per ton decreased 11.5% compared to the Sequential Quarter due to higher production volumes from our Tunnel Ridge mine, reduced longwall move days and increased recoveries from our MC Mining operation in the 2020 Quarter offset in part by higher inventory cost in the 2020 Quarter. Segment Adjusted EBITDA Expense per ton in the Illinois Basin increased 4.1% compared to the Sequential Quarter as a result of reduced production volumes in the 2020 Quarter reflecting seasonal differences. Compared to the 2019 Quarter, reduced expenses per ton in both the Illinois Basin and Appalachian regions drove total Segment Adjusted EBITDA Expense per ton lower by 11.4% in the 2020 Quarter. In the Illinois Basin, Segment Adjusted EBITDA Expense per ton decreased 5.8% compared to the 2019 Quarter primarily as a result of reduced maintenance expenses per ton, favorable inventory costs, lower materials and supplies expenses per ton, improved recoveries at several mines and the absence of higher cost Gibson North sales in the 2020 Quarter, partially offset by reduced total coal production volumes from the region and higher excise and severance taxes. In Appalachia, Segment Adjusted EBITDA Expense per ton decreased 23.7% compared to the 2019 Quarter as a result of strong production at our Tunnel Ridge mine, lower maintenance expenses across the region, reduced materials and supplies expenses per ton, lower labor and benefit expenses and the absence of higher cost purchased tons sold.
Continued strengthening of oil & gas prices during the 2020 Quarter led Segment Adjusted EBITDA for our Minerals segment higher by 15.1% to $10.2 million compared to the Sequential Quarter. Compared to the 2019 Quarter, Segment Adjusted EBITDA declined by 29.7% due to lower sales price realizations per BOE and reduced volumes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Entering 2021, we are encouraged by hopes for gradually improving economic recovery as the roll out of vaccines continues," said Mr. Craft. "Increased economic activity in the U.S. is expected to result in improved energy demand and both our coal and minerals segments should benefit if this occurs. Increased power generation and a favorable natural gas price curve has coal consumption poised for a potential rebound. As global economies gradually continue to recover, international coal market conditions are also beginning to improve which could create additional opportunities for U.S. producers. As we mentioned last quarter, several domestic utilities were recently in the market seeking significant coal supply commitments for multi-year terms. Our marketing team successfully booked commitments for the delivery of approximately 9.9 million tons through 2025. ARLP currently has contract commitments for approximately 24.1 million tons in 2021 and we are continuing to target total coal sales volumes this year approximately 10.0% above 2020 levels."
Mr. Craft continued, "Higher commodity prices have led to increased permitting, drilling and completion activity across the regions where our oil & gas minerals are located. It will take time, however, for production from new development to overcome the aggregate decline curve on ARLP’s existing mineral interests created by the dramatic reduction in drilling and completion rates experienced last year. Assuming recent strength in oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids pricing is sustained, we currently expect higher year-over-year price realizations in 2021 and a modest increase in the EBITDA contribution from our Minerals segment this year."
In conclusion, Mr. Craft said, "Creating long-term unitholder value is core to ARLP’s business objectives. A balanced approach to maximize cash flows from existing assets, pursue external growth opportunities, protect our balance sheet and return cash to unitholders are all key to achieving our objective. ARLP is actively evaluating various strategies which we believe have the potential to generate attractive long-term returns and sustainable cash flow growth and we look forward to sharing more details as our plans continue to develop over the next few quarters."
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