July 24, 2008 / 2:40 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Fording Q2 profit rises on higher coal prices

NEW YORK, July 23 (Reuters) - Second-quarter profit at Fording Canadian Coal Trust FDG_u.TO more than tripled as coal prices rose and started to reflect higher 2008 coal year pricing.

The trust, which owns 60 percent of the Elk Valley Partnership, the world’s No. 2 exporter of metallurgical coal used in steelmaking, earned C$373 million ($370 million), up from C$106 million in the prior-year quarter.

The price for metallurgical coal, which is crucial for making steel, had surged this year on burgeoning demand, while flooding in Australia cut supplies.

Distributions of C$2.50 per unit were declared for the quarter compared with C$0.65 per unit a year ago.

The company said earnings from continuing operations rose to C$373 million, or C$2.51 per unit, from C$106.4 million, or C$0.72, in the second quarter of 2007.

The operating result beat the C$1.54 per unit average profit forecast among analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

Fording said earlier this year its average contracted coal price for the 2008 coal year, which began April 1, had nearly tripled to C$275 per tonne from C$93 in the year-prior period.

Cash available for distribution to shareholders rose to C$420 million, or C$2.82 per unit, from C$135 million, or C$0.92.

Revenue rose 95 percent to C$815.6 million.

The company also said the independent committees formed to explore strategic alternatives will make no further announcements until a disclosure of a material change is required.

In December, Fording launched a review aimed at finding the best way of boosting its unit price but said in April that did not mean it would be sold. (Reporting by Helen Chernikoff; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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