Prepare to witness another dimension where nothing is as it seems. You are about to enter the coal stock twilight zone. Lying between a convoluted earnings statement and results that fail to inspire: Alliance Resource Partners
The twilight zone begins at the earnings release, where an apparent drop in income for the second quarter is actually a 6.8% increase over the prior year, once a dizzying mix of non-recurring items is accounted for.
Before the recent explosion in coal prices, Alliance Resource Partners was a sector leader in profitability, enjoying EBITDA margins well ahead of worthy competitors such as Arch Coal
This leads me to a second journey into the twilight zone. How is it, Rod Serling might have asked, that the fourth-largest coal producer in the eastern United States posts single-digit earnings growth while Fording Canadian Coal Trust
In a sector with the kind of volatility that coal has experienced recently, a conservative choice like Alliance Resource Partners may suit some Fools' tastes. For income-seeking Fools who invest by the "slow and steady wins the race" mantra, Alliance offers a 5.5% dividend, a track record of steady production and revenue growth, and a conservative strategy that is likely to work in any price environment for coal.