Revisiting the Best-Run Coal Company in America: Alliance Resource Partners L.P. (ARLP)

After a tough 2012 for the coal industry, finding a great company within that troubled sector seems like a daunting task.  However, there happens to be a shining diamond in the rough:  Alliance Resource Partners L.P. (NASDAQ:ARLP).

A Testament to Terrific Management

It’s no secret that coal was under fire in 2012.  The combination of the drop in natural gas prices and fears of stricter federal regulation took its toll on America’s coal companies.  Investors feared that utility customers would soon switch to non-coal sources of power, and headed for the exits.

Alliance Resource Partners, L.P.As a result, coal stocks have performed brutally in recent years.  Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (NYSE:ANR) has seen its market value drop by 85% since the beginning of 2011.  Over the same time frame, fellow coal miner Peabody Energy Corporation (NYSE:BTU) saw its share price decline from more than $70 per share to its current level of $23.

Yet in early February, Alliance Resource Partners reported promising fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year results.  Even amid a difficult pricing environment for coal, the company performed admirably.  Alliance Resource Partners reported quarterly and full-year revenue increases of 16% and 10%, respectively, versus the prior year.  The company’s revenues set a new record, as did its tons sold and tons produced.

In addition, there’s reason to be optimistic for the future despite the tenuous environment for coal.  Management expects 2013 to deliver record results yet again.  Amazingly, more than 95% of Alliance Resource Partners’ 2013 business is priced and contracted.  The company expects sales growth of 6% to 9% in 2013 versus its 2012 total.  Further sales and production growth will be realized through the company’s plans to construct a new mine in southern Indiana, and it’s constructing a new mining complex in southern Illinois.

Fantastic Commitment to Shareholders

Perhaps my favorite reason for owning Alliance Resource Partners is its steadfast policy of increasing its distribution to shareholders.  When I last wrote about the company, I predicted the company would raise its payout after reporting its most recent results, since the company had recently begun a pattern of increasing its distribution quarterly.

Indeed, Alliance Resource announced an increase in its distribution of 2.1%, to an annualized level of $4.43 per share.  The company’s dividend stands 12% higher than a year ago.  At current prices, the stock yields an impressive 7%, a yield significantly higher than both competing coal companies and the broader market.

Alliance Resource Partners’ payout and operating performance simply blows the competition away.  Peabody pays a paltry dividend yield in comparison, around 1%, but hasn’t been able to provide investors with a dividend increase since 2010. Worse yet, its dividend yield pales in comparison to the painful loss of principal investors have endured.  Alpha Natural doesn’t even pay a dividend, and reported huge losses in 2012.

Net income for full-year 2012 clocked in at $6.12 per unit which means the company is trading at a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 10.  Alliance offers not only a great yield, but fantastic distribution growth—13.6% compounded annually over the last five years.  Alliance was a screaming buy below $60, but even its current level of $63 represents a compelling entry point.

A Great Company with a Great Valuation

Alliance Resource Partners is solidly optimistic about its future, and so am I.  I’ve owned the units for almost a year, and the company represents one of my biggest holdings.  The prospect of continued record operating results and a 7% yield that is increased quarterly makes this company one of my favorites to own.

In addition, the units are cheap:  Alliance is currently trading at an attractive trailing P/E of only 10.  Great stocks that provide a compelling combination of growth and income don’t stay cheap for long.  Investors interested in Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) would be wise to devote additional research to this great company.

The article Revisiting the Best-Run Coal Company in America originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Robert Ciura.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Comments
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy

Insider Monkey beat the market by 52 percentage points in 24 months. Our beta is only 1.2 (don't click this link if beating the market isn't important to you).

Lists

The Best B-Boy Movies

Most Awesome Hip Hop Documentaries

Foods That Stain Your Teeth

Richest Doctors in the World

The Best Movie Sountracks Ever

The Highest Grossing Musicals on Broadway

The Most Successful Reality TV Stars

Cheapest Cities to Visit in the US

Most Expensive Summer Camps

Most Expensive Animals in the World

Most Expensive Specialty Crops in the World

Movies That Took Ages to Make

The Longest Hollywood Films Ever Made

Most Expensive Concert Stages

The Richest Bands of all Time

10 Most Corrupt Countries 2013 List

10 Countries with the Highest Quality of Life Index

Most Expensive Mattresses in the World

5 Smallest Countries by Land Area

The Ultimate Heartbreak Songs

Richest Teenagers in the World

10 Most Haunted Places in America

10 Best Places to Retire in Florida East Coast

Top 10 Places to See Before You Die

Top 8 Countries in the World Where Justice Prevails

10 Richest States in America

15 Wealthiest Countries in the World

Richest Singers in the World

Most Expensive Tasting Menu in New York City

Most Expensive Baby Items in the World

Most Expensive Hotel Suites in Vegas

Most Expensive Brunch in New York City

Most Expensive Beef Cuts in the World

25 Best Colleges to Get a Job

Top 10 US Supermarkets

The 25 Most Dangerous Cities in the World to Visit

Most Expensive Xbox Games

Top 11 Cities Where Billionaires Live

Top 10 Most Charitable Companies in America

Most Expensive Seafood in the World

The 10 Wildest Conspiracy Theories

The 10 Best Job Markets in the US

Top 10 Accounting Scandals of All Time

The 25 Biggest Cities in the World

Top 10 Best Paying Virtual Jobs

Most Expensive Leather Shoes in the World

Top 6 Things to Buy in March

The 10 Most Stressful Jobs in America – 2014 List

Top 10 Jobs for Introverted People

Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations in the World

Subscribe

Enter your email:

Delivered by FeedBurner

X

Thanks! An email with instructions is sent to !

Your email already exists in our database. Click here to go to your subscriptions

Insider Monkey returned 47.6% in its first year! Wondering How?

Download a complete edition of our newsletter for free!