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Whitehaven declares special dividend on record FY'18 profit

Australian coal producer Whitehaven Coal Ltd. declared a special dividend after posting record profit for its fiscal year 2018.

The company booked a full-year posttax net profit of A$525.6 million, up 29.7% from A$405.4 million a year ago, according an Aug. 14 release.

The board proposed an unfranked dividend of 27 cents per share, comprising a final dividend of 14 cents and a special dividend of 13 cents. The company also declared an interim dividend of 13 cents per share in the first half.

Whitehaven attributed the improvement in its results to a strong operating performance coupled with improved coal prices.

Full-year revenue jumped 27.3% to A$2.26 billion, while operating EBITDA climbed 32% to A$940.0 million. Cash flow from operations were up 30% on a yearly basis to A$854.0 million.

Consolidated run-of-mine coal production was flat at around 17.7 million tonnes, while total coal sales rose 10% to 17.4 million tonnes. Saleable coal output reached 16.2 million tonnes in the period, registering a 2% yearly increase.

The company's managed run-of-mine coal production was almost flat at 22.9 million tonnes, while sales increased 7% to 22.1 million tonnes on a yearly basis.

Coal production at Maules Creek continues to ramp up with the mine operating at 11.0 million tonnes per year for fiscal 2018. However, Narrabri's production was impacted by localized weighting events associated with increased depth and some mechanical issues with the longwall.

Whitehaven expects managed saleable coal production to be between 22 million tonnes and 23 million tonnes in the 2019 financial year. The company also flagged a likely cost increase to A$64 per tonne excluding royalties due to higher fuel costs and longer hauls at Maules Creek.