Sure, investors have heard that before. Just when it looks like the Market Vectors-Coal ETF (NYSEArca: KOL) is firming and ready to move higher, the ETF proceeds to fall.
Maybe this time will be different. Although it fell 1.3% on Thursday, KOL is still up 5.4% this month. Earlier this week, the ETF reclaimed its 50-day moving average for the first time since November and some analysts see further upside ahead for coal stocks.
“The record low temperatures are definitely helping reduce expectations for the level of coal to gas switching that will be needed to clear surplus gas inventories left over from this 2014/5 winter. While it’s probably impossible to estimate the size of the recovery in the coal stocks we feel the way the coal equities based in January is encouraging. Next we will be listening very carefully to our commodity team’s comments on how much tightening of the gas market to expect by early 2016. We are confident the market will be tighter and feel the base in the coal equities is confirming this. However, given the uncertainty around the marginal cost of US shale gas production in a lower oil price environment, we doubt anyone knows how much of a coal equity recovery to expect,” according to a JPMorgan note posted by Ben Levisohn of Barron’s.
JPMorgan said Cloud Peak Energy (NYSE: CLD) and Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) have two of the stronger balance sheets in the industry. Those stocks combine for 5.5% of KOL’s weight.
The drop in demand for raw materials comes as China tries to rein in housing market boom and temper a potentially overheating economy. The slowdown in China’s building boom would pressure demand for coal used to make steel. The emerging market crafted a record 822 million tons of steel in 2014, or about half the global output, but production was only up 1% last year, the slowest annual pace in 33 years. [Coal ETF Still Struggling]