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Massey Energy Swings To 1Q Loss On Higher Expenses; Revenue Up

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Massey Energy Co. (MEE) swung to a first-quarter loss as the coal miner reported higher costs and expenses, masking better-than-expected revenue growth as production and shipments grew. The results will likely be one of the last issued by Massey as an independent company, which reached a $7.1 billion cash-and-stock deal in January to be acquired by Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR). The company--which operates mines in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky--has been hurt by reduced production and increased costs because of tougher mine-safety standards. The coal miner has been troubled as it deals with the fallout of a 2010 explosion at its Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va., that killed 29 workers. The company's longtime chairman and chief executive, Don Blankenship, retired at the end of last year, paving the way for Massey to agree to sell itself to Alpha Natural. Massey and Alpha Natural intend to hold their respective stockholder meetings to seek approval of the merger on June 1, Massey said Monday. If approved, the companies expect to close the merger promptly after the meetings. Massey posted a loss of $7.7 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with a year-ago profit of $33.6 million, or 39 cents a share. Revenue climbed 38%, to $949.8 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of 58 cents on revenue of $907 million. Gross margin slid to 27.3% from 31.8%. The average cash cost per ton in the most recent period jumped 19%, to $66.04, while average produced coal revenue per ton was $80.96, a 20% increase and reaching an all-time record. Produced tons sold jumped 21% to 10.3 million. Shares fell 2 cents, to $67.69 in after-hours trading. -By John Kell, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2480;

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