In the carbonaceous world of coal, Peabody Energy
St. Louis-based Peabody has expanded operations into the Asian Pacific region with a singular determination. U.S. operations accounted for 99% of EBITDA in 2003, but today represent less than half of earnings. Peabody Energy's adaptive response to the robust outlook for coal demand in nations like China and India is now poised to pay off in spades. A clear demand divide is forming, with rising demand from the Asia-Pacific region and declining interest from the U.S. and Europe.
This emerging regional dichotomy is evident in results from Peabody's operations, corroborated by the management of fellow crusader Cliffs Natural Resources
Already huge in Australia, Peabody also has a foot firmly planted inside China's industrial door, and is now reportedly considering a potential $1 billion joint venture to produce thermal coal in Indonesia with Swiss miner Xstrata. With China expected to become a net coal importer this year with a shortfall of more than 10 million tons, and India predicted to import at least 80 million tons by 2013, Peabody is positioning operations according to the emerging face of global coal demand.
With all this focus abroad, will Peabody's domestic affairs suffer, as the Roman Empire's did? Hardly! The new political climate toward coal in Washington has signaled challenges ahead for Appalachian miners engaged in common mountaintop removal practices, placing underground specialists such as CONSOL Energy
The company is a notable leader in clean coal initiatives in China, Australia, and the United States. The FutureGen Alliance -- made up of 11 corporate sponsors, including Peabody, BHP Billiton
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Fool contributor Christopher Barker wishes he could squeeze coal into diamonds. He can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He owns shares of Arch Coal, BHP Billiton, Cliffs Natural Resources, and Peabody Energy. The Motley Fool scrubs its disclosure policy before releasing it into the atmosphere.