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Whitehaven Coal profit tumbles on virus hit, shares slump to 4-year low

(Reuters) - Australia’s Whitehaven Coal posted a 95% plunge in annual profit on Wednesday as coronavirus-triggered lockdowns hammered coal demand, sending its shares to their lowest in more than four years.

Coals prices took a hit as lockdowns hampered industrial activity in most countries, prompting top importers such as Japan and India to halt or defer shipments.

“The short-term outlook for thermal and metallurgical coal is dependent upon post-pandemic economic and industrial recovery in our region,” Whitehaven Coal said in a statement.

Underlying profit came in at A$30 million ($21.58 million) for the year ended June 30, compared with A$564.9 million a year earlier and slightly ahead of Refinitiv estimates of A$28.73 million.

The profit is the lowest in four years, and the country’s largest independent coal producer said it would not pay a final dividend for the year.

However, the miner said the long-term outlook for industrial demand and prices was positive in Asia, its key export market, and that there had been signs of recovery in recent weeks.

The New South Wales-based company expects to produce 21 million tonnes to 22.8 million tonnes of coal in fiscal 2021, compared with the 16.5 million tonnes output this year.

Shares of Whitehaven fell as much as 18.1% before closing nearly 17% lower.

($1 = 1.3900 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Arpit Nayak in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu