A key driver of this demand has been China's emergence as a net importer of coal in 2007. The country is firing up a new coal-burning plant each week, and this growing appetite has devoured coal from Australia, South Africa and other suppliers that would normally ship to European markets.
Some European consumers have therefore turned to U.S. suppliers to replace coal that is now too expensive to ship all the way from Asia.
Some sample returns below:
Massey Energy (MEE) +77% since early October (3 months)
Walter Industries (WLT) +79% since early September (4 months)
Patriot Coal (PCX) +86% since early October (3 months)
Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) +60% since late September (3 months)
James River Coal (JRCC) +56% since early November (2 months)
Even if you went with the most conservative option - the Market Vectors Coal ETF (KOL) +45% since early September (4 months)
[Dec 6, 2007: Coal Stocks Quietly in Bull Market]
[Jan 14, 2008: New Coal ETF (KOL) Introduced from Van Eck Global]
[Feb 7, 2008: Coal Bandwagon Gaining Steam]
[May 1, 2008: Walter Industries - the Most Amazing Company]
[May 5, 2008: Alpha Natural Resources Booming Earnings - Just the Start]
[May 20, 2008: Market Vectors Coal (KOL) Red Hot]