What: Shares of Peabody Energy Corporation (NYSE:BTU) fell again today and were down about 10% as the market headed into the closing bell. Today's slump came despite the fact that the company received some good news from the state of Wyoming. Instead of reacting to that good news, investors continue to fear the slowdown in China, which is one of the few growth markets for coal.
So what: First, the good news: Peabody Energy disclosed that Wyoming's environmental agency reaffirmed the company's self-bonding eligibility for its three mine permits in the state. Given the company's worrisome financial situation, there were concerns that it would no longer meet the financial criteria to qualify for self-bonding. That would have cost the company more money as self-bonding gives the company a discount of insuring clean-up costs in case of a bankruptcy. Overall, the company uses self-bonding for $1.4 billion of the $2.1 billion in mine reclamation obligations it has outstanding, with more than half of those self-bonding obligations in the state of Wyoming.
That good news aside, China's stock market continues to free fall, and has taken commodity prices down with it. The concern is that the stock market crash will have a negative impact on its economy and cut demand for commodities like coal. That would put even more pressure on already weak seaborne coal prices, which continues to negatively impact Peabody Energy's financial results.
Now what: While Peabody Energy received some good news, it wasn't enough to offset the weight of a potential further weakening of Chinese coal demand. At the moment there's just no catalyst for coal prices, which is pushing coal producers like Peabody closer to the brink of bankruptcy.