Peabody Energy Corporation
Lead Plaintiff Deadline: 11/27/2020
SUMMARY OF CASE:
A securities class action has been filed against Peabody Energy Corporation (BTU) on behalf of all persons or entities who purchased or otherwise acquired Peabody common stock between April 3, 2017 through October 28, 2019. This case has been filed in the USDC – S.D.N.Y.
The Complaint alleges that Peabody abody is currently the largest coal mining company in the world, with 23 coal mines throughout the United States and Australia. One of its mines in Australia is the North Goonyella mine, which was acquired by Peabody in 2004 and through which the Company ships coal to customers in India, China and South Korea. As of the start of the Class Period, the North Goonyella mine was considered Peabody’s most profitable single operation.
On April 3, 2017, the start of the Class Period, Peabody emerged from bankruptcy protection and reported record production output, while simultaneously touting the Company’s “record safety” achievements and its “ongoing commitment to ensuring safe, productive operations.”
Unknown to the market at this time, however, was that Defendants failed to disclose, and would continue to omit, the following adverse facts pertaining to the safety practices at the Company’s North Goonyella mine, which were privately known to or recklessly disregarded by Defendants: (a)The Company had failed to implement adequate safety controls at the North Goonyella mine to prevent the risk of a spontaneous combustion event; (b)The Company failed to follow its own safety procedures; and (c)As a result, the North Goonyella mine was at a heightened risk of shutdown.
The truth about Peabody’s inadequate safety practices was revealed when, on September 28, 2018, a fire erupted at the mine, forcing Peabody to suspend operations indefinitely. On this news, Peabody shares fell $5.54 per share, or 13.4 percent.
Following the fire, Defendants assured the market that the Company had a feasible plan to remediate and reopen the North Goonyella mine, and that it would be able to extract significant coal at the mine in the near-term. Unknown to the market at this time, however, was that Defendants failed to disclose, and would continue to omit, the following adverse facts pertaining to the feasibility of Peabody’s plan to restart the North Goonyella mine: (a)The Company’s low-cost plan to restart operations at the mine posed unreasonable safety and environmental risks; (b)The Australian body responsible for ensuring acceptable health and safety standards, the Queensland Mines Inspectorate (“QMI”), would likely mandate a safer, cost-prohibitive approach; and (c)As a result, there would be major delays in reopening the North Goonyella mine and restarting coal production.
The truth about the feasibility of Peabody’s plan to restart operations at North Goonyella was revealed through a series of disclosures. First, on February 6, 2019, Peabody revealed that contrary to previous statements, production at the North Goonyella mine would not resume in 2019, but was instead now targeted to begin to ramp in the early months of 2020. On this news, Peabody shares fell by $3.80 per share, or 10.6%.
Second, on May 1, 2019, Peabody reported that it had received a directive from QMI which could lead to further delays and necessitate a re-evaluation of the Company’s re-entry plan. On this news, Peabody shares fell $1.61 per share, or 5.6%.
Third, on July 31, 2019, Peabody reported additional delays to the reentry of North Goonyella, explaining that QMI’s requirements had resulted in a slower rate of progress than Peabody’s initial plan had contemplated. As a result, Peabody suspended its 2020 production guidance at the mine and informed investors that it was reevaluating its entire reentry plan. On this news, Peabody shares fell by $1.06 per share, or 4.8%. 10.F ourth, on August 9, 2019, QMI released a one-page document with its preliminary investigative findings indicating that Peabody had deficient safety systems at North Goonyella and that the Company was not cooperating fully with its investigation. On this news, Peabody’s stock fell $0.37 per share, or 2 percent.
Finally, on October 29, 2019, Peabody disclosed that QMI was placing strict restrictions on restarting operations at the North Goonyella mine and that as a result Peabody was forced to drastically adjust the reentry plan, ultimately announcing a three year or more delay before any meaningful coal could be produced. On this news, Peabody shares declined $3.56 per share, or 22 percent.