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Walter says sales of coal for steelmaking rose

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Walter Energy Inc. said Thursday that first-quarter results were better than the previous three months on higher prices for coal used in steelmaking, higher production and lower costs.

The shares rose 39 cents to close at $24.12. After the update, they were up $1.96, or 8.1 percent, to $26.08 in after-hours trading.

The company said it sold about 2.8 million metric tons of metallurgical coal, an increase of 9 percent over the fourth quarter.

Sales of thermal coal, which is burned to produce power, fell about 40 percent from the fourth quarter to 380,000 metric tons in the first quarter. The lower volume raised the costs of producing a ton of thermal coal by about $35.

The average sale price improved slightly, while the cash cost of sales for metallurgical coal fell by more than $10 per ton, the company said.

Walter Energy is scheduled to release first-quarter results May 2. Analysts expect the company to post a loss, excluding special items, of 86 cents per share, according to FactSet. The company lost $1.07 per share in the fourth quarter of 2012.