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Alpha earnings up sharply


Profits at Alpha Natural Resources more than tripled in the first quarter, with the coal producer this week citing sales of higher priced metallurgical coal used to make steel.

Alpha posted earnings of $49.8 million, or 41 cents per share, including $49.3 million in charges in the period. Alpha earned $14 million, or 12 cents per share, including $95.8 million in charges in first-quarter 2010.

Revenue rose to $1.1 billion, compared with $922 million in first-quarter 2010.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet were forecasting earnings of 89 cents per share on revenue of $1.07 billion. They typically exclude onetime charges, however.

Alpha recorded $26 million of pretax charges related to coal supply agreements and $23.3 million in pretax merger-related expenses in the quarter.

Alpha expects to complete its $7.1 billion takeover of Richmond, Va.-based rival Massey Energy Co. after shareholders of both companies vote June 1. The deal would create a global power built on exporting U.S. coal, primarily for use by foreign steelmakers. Alpha said it signed contracts to supply 2.6 million tons of met coal in the quarter, almost half of it for $324 per metric ton.

Metallurgical coal revenue increased $ 253 million, or 97 percent, in the first quarter, Alpha said. The company struggled with sluggish production at two major underground mines in Pennsylvania. Revenue from eastern steam coal sold to power plants dropped $114 million in the quarter as a result, Alpha said.

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