Aurizon coal train crossing the Hunter River in Singleton Photo: Aurizon The companys rail operations in Queensland were affected by the rain and flooding associated with Cyclone Debbie. Aurizon now expects to haul between 190 million tonnes and 200 million tonnes of coal on its Central Queensland Rail Network compared to earlier guidance of between 200 million tonnes and 212 million tonnes. The volume impact will hurt its earnings. Heres what the company is forecasting (all in Australian dollars): Aurizon expects total FY2017 EBIT reduction of $100115 million as a result of Cyclone Debbie impacts, of which approximately $70-80 million will be recovered through regulatory processes in future years. Accordingly, Aurizon has revised its previous EBIT guidance for FY2017 of $900-950 million to $800-850 million. As noted above coal haulage volumes are now expected to be in the range of 190-200 million tonnes. Heres a take on the downgraded guidance from RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Johnston: Overall, it is a negative announcement, but likely to have been largely anticipated by the market. The valuation impact is far more modest than the earnings impact, particularly given the revenue cap and capex recovery mechanisms that apply to the below rail assets.That said, while the earnings impact of Cyclone Debbie is once-off for FY17E, it is likely to have some impact on managements ability to implement decisions quickly to shed costs in order to meet earnings expectations for FY18E. Our Underperform rating on AZJ has been premised on the view that earnings estimates for AZJ for FY18E are too high (given below rail adjustments and UT5) and the valuation of the shares too steep given trading multiples versus history and relative to class 1 rails. This investment view remains. Goldman Sachs warned last week that Aurizon may have to cut its earnings guidance.
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