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Katharine Lau/Medill

Natural Resource Partners LP's net income attributable to the limited partners for 2009, broken down by quarter.

Natural Resource Partners report 4Q decrease in earnings and sales

by Katharine Lau
Feb 12, 2010

Natural Resource Partners LP, owner and manager of coal reserves and coal infrastructure, posted decreased earnings and sales for the fourth quarter and full year 2009, yet still managed to beat Wall Street expectations. 

The Houston-based company, which leases coal properties in the Illinois Basin to miners, earned $27.4 million attributable to the limited partners, or 39 cents per unit, in the quarter ended Dec. 31. This represents a 25 percent decline from the year-earlier quarter of $36.6 million attributable to the limited partners, or 56 cents per unit.NRP handily beat analysts’ quarterly estimate of 26 cents, as compiled by Zacks Investment Research Inc. 

Revenues totaled $65.9 million in the fourth quarter, down 13 percent from $75.8 million in the year-earlier quarter. 

“As 2009 progressed, we began to see first a stabilization of the overall coal market and then, toward the end of the year, a strengthening of the market for metallurgical coal,” stated NRP Chief Operating Officer Nick Carter in a press release. 

In a report, FBR Capital Markets Corp. analyst David Khani called the quarterly earnings "strong," noting that the per-unit profit was well ahead of even his above-average estimate of 31 cents per share.

In the year ended Dec. 31, the company's net income attributable to the limited partners was $79 million, or $1.17 per unit, a 38 percent drop from $127.5 million, or $1.95 per unit, posted for all of 2008.  Sales declined to $256.1 million from $291.7 million. 

NRP shares closed Friday at $24.82, up $1.09 or 4.6 percent from Thursday’s closing price of $23.73.