Market Overview

Coal Carnage: Coal Stocks, ETFs Getting Worse, Not Better (KOL, PKOL, ANR)

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Coal Carnage: Coal Stocks, ETFs Getting Worse, Not Better (KOL, PKOL, ANR)

The writing has been on the wall for coal equities and the relevant ETFs for a while now. Really, it has been a matter of "pick your poison" for downtrodden coal stocks. Risk on being turned off, slowing economic growth in emerging markets and depressed natural gas prices on their own would be nasty blows to the body of the coal industry.

Unfortunately, all three of those scenarios exist simultaneously and are dragging coal stocks and ETFs such as the Market Vectors Coal ETF (NYSE: KOL) through 12 rounds of agony. Two months ago, Benzinga was the first to predict the Market Vectors Coal ETF, the largest of the two coal ETFs, was headed back to its 52-week low.

KOL obliged and has fallen 25.2% since that story was published on April 10. In other words, things are getting worse, not better for KOL and its constituents. The PowerShares Global Coal Portfolio (Nasdaq: PKOL), KOL's less traded, less heralded counterpart, has lost over 21% in the past 60 days.

What's worrisome about the near- to medium-term outlook for KOL is that the ETF can hardly go a week without enduring some kind of bearish news from one of its constituents. Recently, there has been a glum profit outlook from mining equipment maker Joy Global (NYSE: JOY), 8.2% of KOL's weight. Then was the speculation Patriot Coal (NYSE: PCX) was facing a capital crunch. Patriot, albeit to a small degree, is part of KOL's lineup.

Today, Alpha Natural Resources, 3.2% of KOL's weight, said it is idling four plants in Kentucky and slashing production at its others in the Bluegrass State. That sent shares of Alpha Natural down 9.2% on above average volume.

Here's the tale of the tape for some of KOL's marquee constituents following Monday's carnage: Alpha Natural is now trading at an-all time low, according to Google Finance data. James River Coal (Nasdaq: JRCC), just 0.2% of KOL's and now a micro-cap stock, is also a member of the all-time low club. Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT) closed just above $44, a price area not seen since July 2009. Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), the largest U.S. coal miner, closed just above $23 today, a price not seen since March 2009. Consol Energy (NYSE: CNX), closed at $27.27, one penny above its close on January 30, 2009.

Combine Consol, Peabody and Walter and that's over 23% of KOL's total weight. The impact of these declines is palpable and clear: It means a mass exodus of assets from KOL. The ETF entered trading today with $160.1 million in assets under management. Translation: In the span of exactly one month, KOL has lost $20 million in AUM. In the span of 13 months, KOL has shed $420 million in AUM.

In a news release issued today, Alpha Natural Chairman and CEO Kevin Crutchfield said "The U.S. coal industry is confronting a ‘new normal...'" Indeed, and this new normal doesn't appear attractive at all.

For more on energy ETFs, please click HERE.

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