Even before President Obama's speech on climate change emphasized the need to limit carbon emissions, coal companies were having a rough go of it. Declining revenues, balllooning debt, and competition from natural gas have made it very difficult for some companies to survive. With debt-to-capital ratios approaching that of the now-bankrupt Patriot Coal, it looks as though Walter Energy (NASDAQOTH:WLTGQ) could be heading into some very dire financial times. 

At the same time, there are a few glimmers of hope for the coal industry. Cloud Peak Energy's (NYSE:CLD) balance sheet shows some characteristics that could help it survive another rough patch for coal. It may not be a great balance sheet overall, but it's certainly better than many others in the space. Tune into the following video to get Fool.com contributors Tyler Crowe and Aimee Duffy's take on a couple other coal companies that either look like they are headed for a big fall or have stronger balance sheets to weather the storm.


Fool contributors Aimee Duffy and Tyler Crowe have no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow them both on Twitter, @TMFDuffy and @TylerCroweFool, respectively.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.