Peabody Energy Corporation (BTU) Accused of Misleading Shareholders
On April 3, 2017, Peabody emerged from bankruptcy, reporting record production for the North Goonyella mine and claiming it had achieved record safety this past year, among other things. Throughout the relevant period, Peabody reported positive financial results and emphasized its “continued commitment to ensuring safe and productive environments” and its “constant vigilance toward safety.” Beginning September 18, 2018, Peabody reported that work at the North Goonyella mine had been suspended due to elevated methane and carbon monoxide levels. Then, on September 28, 2018, Peabody reported a fire within the mine and that as a result, the Company did “not expect any production from North Goonyella in the fourth quarter of 2018.”
In the aftermath of the fire, Peabody executives made positive statements regarding the reopening of the mine and the impact that would have on the Company’s financial outlook. On August 9, 2019, the Queensland Mines Inspectorate (“QMI”) reported that Peabody had deficient safety systems at North Gooneylla and that the Company was not cooperating with its investigation. Then, on October 29, 2019, Peabody issued its Form 8-K reporting a third quarter 2019 loss of $0.88 per share, as compared with positive third quarter 2018 earnings of $0.63 per share, missing analysts’ consensus expectations by more than 50 percent. Peabody also disclosed that QMI’s restrictions on restarting operations at the North Goonyella mine would result in a three or more year delay before any meaningful coal could be produced. Peabody’s stock has been on a downward trajectory and currently trades at just $2.20.