(Bloomberg) -- U.S. coal giant Peabody Energy Corp. surged in early trading after posting quarterly profit that were almost triple what analysts expected, driven by strong demand and high prices for the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Shares soared as much as 8.6% to $14.76 at 9:30 a.m. in New York trading, touching its highest price since October.

Peabody reported earnings of $3.90 a share for the fourth quarter, beating the $1.34 average estimate by analysts, as revenue surged 72% from a year ago to $1.26 billion, the St. Louis-based company said Thursday in a statement.

A global energy crisis has driven up demand for fossil fuels, pushing U.S. coal prices to record highs. Prices for exports in Peabody’s seaborne thermal operations more than doubled from a year earlier to $96.16 a ton. That was offset by its Powder River Basin unit, the company’s biggest, where prices slipped 3.7% to $10.99. 

The company has locked in contracts for almost all of its expected 2022 production, according to Chief Executive Officer Jim Grech.

“We continue to experience strong market dynamics, and as a result we have significant forward sales commitments,” he said in the statement.

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