China Coal Giants Surge on Rising Prices, Generous Dividends

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China’s coal mining giants surged Monday after promising generous dividend payouts and as prices for the fuel jumped on supply tightness.

Shares for China Shenhua Energy Co. and Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. both rose more than 10% in Hong Kong. The companies, China’s largest listed miners by production, said Friday they would give the lion’s share of 2020 profits to shareholders in the form of dividends.

China Coal Giants Surge on Rising Prices, Generous Dividends

They also rose as thermal coal prices jumped to the highest since December, as safety inspections restrict output while a strong economy supports demand. The boost in shares and commodity prices underscores how important the fossil fuel remains even as China begins a long-term shift toward carbon neutrality.

Shenhua, which gained 10% on the day, will give a dividend of 1.81 yuan per share for 2020, compared to earnings per share of 1.803 yuan, the company said in its annual report published after market closed Friday. Yanzhou, which rose 16%, will give a dividend of 1 yuan per share on per-share earnings of 1.29 yuan.

For Shenhua, “this is well above its dividend commitment of 50% (raised from 35% previously last year) and compares to 38-60% in the past three years,” Morgan Stanley analysts including Sara Chan said in a Monday research note predicting a rise in shares.

Thermal coal futures on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange jumped 4.8% to the highest close for a front-month contract since Dec. 11. Safety inspections that are crimping output may heighten after an accident killed four miners in Shanxi province last week. Meanwhile a robust industrial rebound from the pandemic is supporting consumption at power plants.

The miners also flagged that they plan to reduce output this year compared to 2020. Shenhua plans to produce 284 million tons in 2021, down from 292 million last year, while Yanzhou is targeting 110 million, down from 120 million. China Coal Energy Co., which reported earnings March 24 sees output at 105 million tons, down from 110 million.

“The supply and demand of coal are expected to be practically balanced in 2021,” Shenhua said in its earnings report. “However, subject to factors including environmental protection safety crackdown, seasonal fluctuations and unexpected events, there may be structural tight supply in certain periods and regions.”

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