Steel Stocks Raising Capital And Investing In Coal Companies

Posted by Bull Bear Trader | 5/21/2008 02:40:00 PM | , , , , , , , | 0 comments »

During a recent post I made a case for the steel stocks, along with a follow-up article. During the original article I mentioned how "steel companies themselves are also taking steps to reduce costs. This is becoming more of a worry as iron-ore prices have risen 71%, while prices for coking coal and scrap steel have more than doubled. To meet the problem head-on, some companies are attempting to purchase iron-ore mines, coal mines, and deposits, as well as hording scrap steel in an attempt to hedge against higher raw material prices."

We are now beginning to see more of this phenomenon being played out. ArcelorMittal (MT) has agreed to pay $631 million for a 14.9% stake in Macarthur Coal, a move that not only provides a source of coal for ArcelorMittal, but also makes it less likely that Macarthur will be taken over by Xstrata PLC. The purchase was made from two large shareholders agreeing to sell for $19.96 a share, or an 8.5% premium to Macarthur's last trade. Macarthur is the world's largest exporter of pulverized coal, the coking coal used when making steel. ArcelorMittal has traditionally purchased more than 20% of Macarthur's output. This move insures that ArcelorMittal can continue to receive this raw material. They has also recently signed new long-term contracts for iron ore and pellets with Vale, and a off-take agreement with Coal of Africa Limited.

To help possibly fund this stake and others, ArcelorMittal had recently completed the pricing of a $3 billion bond issue of 5 and 10 year notes. Interestingly, Nucor Corporation (NUE) just recently started a secondary offering of 25 million shares of common stock, and also plans to raise up to $1 billion in the debt capital markets. Press releases state that the secondary offering funds will be used for "general corporate purposes, including acquisitions, capital expenditures, working capital needs and repayment of debt." Don't be surprised if an acquisition or stake in a coal company ends up being considered by Nucor and other coal companies as coal prices continue to rise in price and the commodity becomes more in demand. Many steel companies are already considering similar secondaries and bond offerings to remain flexible for such moves.

As for coal companies, these stocks have also been doing well. Popular and widely held companies to begin looking at include Arch Coal (ACI), CONSOL Energy (CNX), Massey Energy (MEE), Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP), and Peabody Energy (BTU). Each have had nice runs this year. Other plays also exist. More about coal in a later post.