Nearly 20 exchange traded funds related to the energy complex have made new 52-week lows to this point in Wednesday’s trading session and one of those funds is the Market Vectors-Coal ETF (NYSEArca: KOL).
With Wednesday’s 0.4% decline, KOL is now off nearly 14% on a year-to-date basis. With theUnited States Natural Gas Fund (NYSEArca: UNG) trading at its lowest levels since July, the outlook for coal stocks is cloudy at best because coal producers are believed to be beneficiaries of higher natural gas prices, which have previously prompted electric utilities to use more coal in an effort to trim costs. [Natty’s Woes Hit This ETF]
Although the stock accounts for a scant 0.2% of the ETF’s weight, making it the fund’s third-smallest holding, Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT) is again hampering KOL today. In a note out earlier today, Morgan Stanley sounded a skeptical tone about Walter and Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR).
Shares of Walter are down about 4.7% and trading below $2. Alpha Natural, 0.65% of KOL’s weight, is trading higher, but struggling to stay above $2. In early 2011, Alpha Natural traded above $65. In July 2011, hedge fund Audley Capital said shares of Walter Energy were worth $240, more than double where the stock traded at the time that audacious claim was made.
The near-term view of thermal coal demand is murky, too, due in part to forecasts calling for a milder winter than what was seen last year.