Whitehaven Coal posts record annual profit on strong prices, flags higher costs

Whitehaven Coal Ltd on Thursday reported a record full-year underlying profit and a bumper dividend, on the back of strong prices for its high-grade thermal coal.

Adds outlook, details on results

Aug 15 (Reuters) - Whitehaven Coal Ltd WHC.AX on Thursday reported a record full-year underlying profit and a bumper dividend, on the back of strong prices for its high-grade thermal coal.

Australia's biggest independent coal miner said net profit after tax, before significant items, was A$564.9 million compared with A$524.5 million a year ago.

Whitehaven has been increasing its output of higher quality thermal coal to benefit from robust prices, partially offsetting a rise in costs and lower production of saleable coal in the year.

The company said it received an average of $100 a tonne for its higher-grade thermal coal, up from $98 per tonne a year earlier.

Whitehaven, however, flagged higher costs for the coming year. The company expects unit costs to rise about 4.5% to $70 per tonne in fiscal 2020.

The continued rise in costs will be due to higher diesel prices, increased washing to sell more higher quality coal and lower output from the company's lower cost mines, Whitehaven said.

The company declared a final dividend of 13 Australian cents per share and a special dividend of 17 Australian cents per share.

Whitehaven shares fell up to 4.9% on Thursday in line with the broader market.

(Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

((Niyati.N.Shetty@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497199;))

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