Whether it's learning to drive a stick shift or jumping out of an airplane, the first time is always the hardest. The same can be said for corrections in a long-term secular bull market -- like the one we're in for commodities.

The deep correction that struck coal shares recently was the first major pause in what had been a long bull run. Still, with shares of market leaders like Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI), Massey Energy (NYSE:MEE), and Consol Energy (NYSE:CNX) all dropping nearly 30% from recent highs, this correction has undoubtedly shaken the resolve of many a coal bull.

If second-quarter results from Fording Canadian Coal Trust (NYSE:FDG) are any indication, investors may soon be surprised to learn how much of the storied rise was actually grounded in realistic earnings expectations. Fording owns royalties from a 60% interest in the Elk Valley coal project, while operating partner Teck Cominco (NYSE:TCK) owns the remaining 40%.

The numbers from Fording are magnificent. The company achieved a 252% increase in net earnings to $373 million. Although the volume of coal sales increased only slightly, revenue nearly doubled to $817 million, thanks to a rough doubling of realized prices to $204 a tonne. Reassuring the shaken coal investor that this stellar quarter was no fluke, the company revealed that its 2008 contract price averaged across all coal types will be $275 per tonne.

Perhaps this look at Fording's breakout quarter will prompt some Fools to reevaluate their own outlook for coal stocks. The combination of a terrific mid-term growth outlook and a 12% dividend makes Fording Canadian Coal Trust an easy recommendation for further research. Another favorite of mine is Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR), which claims 21% of the U.S. metallurgical coal market. The sell-off in shares of Alpha following the recent bid by Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE:CLF) has created what could be an enticing entry point.

Further Foolishness:

The "Coal" tag within the Motley Fool CAPS community lists 21 coal companies. Find out what other investors are saying about the stocks you're watching, or share your Foolish thoughts with us. CAPS is free and fun!

Fool contributor Christopher Barker captains yachts and writes about stocks. He can also be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He owns shares of Cleveland-Cliffs, Massey Energy, Arch Coal, and Teck Cominco. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.