CONSOL profit dips in fourth quarter, but sets record for the year

CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) had a good year in 2009, posting a record profit, even as its fourth-quarter results dropped from the previous year. The Canonsburg-based coal producer reported net income of $143.2 million, or 78 cents per share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $176.3 million, or 97 cents per share for the same period in 2008, when shareholders received a 20 cent per share boost from a refund of the black lung excise tax. For full-year 2009, CONSOL posted earnings of $539.7 million, or $2.95 per share — the highest of any year except for 2005 when the company sold shares of its natural gas subsidiary CNX Gas Corp. For full-year 2008, CONSOL reported net income of $442.5 million, or $2.40 per share. CONSOL touted its exports of metallurgical coal to Asia, citing increased demand and new contracts. CONSOL’s revenue for the fourth quarter was $1.24 billion, just $4 million lower than in 2008. [Read the full article]

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For companies like Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) and Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), 2008 set a high-water mark for earnings that won’t be easily surpassed. Last year saw these oil service companies’ pre-tax earnings drop 43% and 47%, respectively. For Noble (NYSE: NE), however, the only place you’ll find a high-water mark is on the hull of one of its offshore drilling rigs. The offshore drilling contractor notched a new record in 2009, with pre-tax earnings lifting 5% to $2 billion for the year. The fourth quarter capped off this fine year with contract drilling margins riding high at 70%, and rig utilization at 83%. Per-share net income came in at $1.72, which was well ahead of analyst expectations. Importantly, Noble’s accounting earnings are backed up by solid cash generation; in this case, $2.1 billion for the year. [Read the full article]

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