No point being too excited about today's gains. I could have just dropped 10% and it would not have changed the picture: US thermal coal turned recently, before the BTU conf call. It will be reflected in the price eventually.
For the next 2 years *some* shorts are going repeat the same mistake longs did before: mistake of looking at the past earnings and seeing losses, just like longs looked at the awesome trailing results in 2011 and early in 2012. While it is still mathematically possible to do PRB price-wise worse YoY in 2014 than in 2013, I do not think it is going to happen! It is not hard to calculate that from PRB futures prices for 2014, priced volume for 2014 and projected sales for 2014. Hard to bring $14.22 (average price of 2014 contracts) for more that 60% of volume priced down to $13.3 if the average futures price from 2014 is above $12.
All other things equal, the next 3 quarters you will hear more talks about improving conditions, and then you will see higher YoY shipments and prices and you will see positive earnings sometime next year. Actually, the first higher YoY quarterly shipments will be the next (Q2) quarter (hard not to beat 31M tons! from the last year), and then Q3 will be again lower YoY for shipments and that will be the last YoY lower quarterly shipments for several quarters. One thing for sure is that the stock market will discount positive earning way before they actually materialize.