NRP sees earnings decrease as royalty income declines - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

NRP sees earnings decrease as royalty income declines

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Natural Resource Partners saw net income in the third quarter fall as coal royalties declined more than 26 percent.

The company is a master limited partnership based in Houston but with operational headquarters in Huntington. It reported net income of $35.4 million in the third quarter, down from $50.96 million in the third quarter of 2012.

"Our diversification both within and outside of the coal business has helped temper the declines in both production and price of our Central Appalachian coal," Nick Carter, president and chief operating officer, said in the earnings report issued after markets closed Nov. 5.

Coal royalty revenues decreased primarily to decreases in prices for both metallurgical and steam coal, according to the earnings report. Coal production volumes increased slightly. The production increase was largely due to higher production from mines with lower prices, which offset decreased Central Appalachian production. Metallurgical coal was 32 percent of coal production and 42 percent of coal royalty revenues in the quarter.

The thermal coal market continues to be weak, and NRP believes that over the next quarter it will be getting some clarity for 2014 and beyond as current contracts roll over or off, the earnings release said. The metallurgical coal market is gradually improving off of its recent low, with the recent benchmark price of $152 per metric ton being $7 per metric ton above the benchmark price for the prior quarter. The metallurgical coal recovery will not be a rapid one, but the global demand for steel continues to increase, and due to NRP's large exposure to metallurgical coal, particularly from Central Appalachia, NRP will benefit as the market steadily improves, the release said.

NRP is principally engaged in the business of owning and managing mineral reserve properties.  NRP primarily owns coal, aggregate and oil and gas reserves across the United States that generate royalty income for the partnership.