February 25, 2020 / 5:02 AM / in a month

UPDATE 1-Australia's Coronado warns coronavirus hit to steel demand; shares hit record low

* Impact from coronavirus on steel industry seen short-term

* China expected to stimulate, boost steel demand

* CEO says lower dividend comes as soft prices yield bargains (Adds CEO, analyst comment, details)

MELBOURNE - Feb 25 (Reuters) - Coronado Global Resources Inc warned on Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak would weigh on steel demand in China as the Australia-based coal producer reported a lower production target for 2020, sending its shares to an all-time low.

Coronado said it expects lower China production of steel, for which metallurgical coal is a key ingredient, in the near term as quarantine measures imposed by the Chinese government cut into demand from the residential and infrastructure construction sectors.

But it said it expected demand would recover on a package of economic stimulus measures anticipated from Beijing once the outbreak was contained.

The Brisbane-headquartered miner’s lower production outlook for 2020 - now seen in the range of 19.7 million tonnes to 20.2 million tonnes - also came after operations were suspended following a fatality at its Australian operations in January.

Coronado’s underlying net income came in at $305.5 million, higher than the $209.4 million posted a year ago as the miner reined in costs, but lower than the $310 million forecast by UBS.

It also posted a more conservative final dividend of 2.5 cents, compared with the 5 cents forecast by UBS.

The lower dividend will help the miner keep some cash in reserve should acquisition opportunities open up, Chief Executive Gerry Spindler told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“If you’re acquisitive you find that people are more willing to sell as their own assets become stressed,” he told Reuters.

Peabody Energy has been looking for a partner for its North Goonyella coking coal mine north of Coronado’s Curragh operations after it suspended operations following an underground fire in 2018.

Coronado’s shares were down 1.4% at A$1.80, as of 0314 GMT. Earlier in the session, stock hit a record low of A$1.700.

Market conditions for metallurgical coal weakened last year as a result of a protracted trade spat between the United States and China. Coronado got $128.8 a tonne for its coal, down 3.4% from last year.

Coronado closed its only dedicated thermal coal mine last year. Its thermal coal sales stood at 21.2% of group sales by volume last year, accounting for around 7% of revenue.

Over the period, it renegotiated a syndicated loan of up to $550 million and extended the term to February 2023 on the same terms as its previous loan.

U.S. private equity house EMG may now sell down its 80% holding in Coronado after regulatory curbs mandating it keep its stake following the October 2018 IPO expired on Tuesday.

Spindler said he “didn’t have any information” that would lead him to believe that Coronado would have a new major shareholder in the near term.

$1 = 1.5090 Australian dollars Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Kenneth Maxwell

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