CONSOL Energy (NYSE:CNX) (+131%; +3.96%), the natural gas and Appalachian coal company, also contributed large gains over the year. CEO Nick Deluliis, management, and the board, led by Chairman Will Thorndike, monetized assets and continued to cut costs in the pursuit of separating the coal and gas businesses which is expected to happen in 2017. Following the disposition of its metallurgical coal assets in the first half of the year, CONSOL sold its high cost Miller Creek and Fola thermal coal mines to a private buyer at a price above our appraisal. The company also delivered positive free cash flow (FCF) for the year, which many thought very unlikely at the start of 2016. In the fourth quarter, CONSOL announced the unwinding of a joint venture with Noble Energy in which the company received $205 million in cash from Noble while maintaining ownership of valuable EBITDA-producing properties. Recent transactions involving other companies’ gas assets in Appalachia, as well as CONSOL’s own midstream master limited partnerships’ (MLP) prices, support our appraisal of CONSOL, which is much higher than the stock price.
From Longleaf Partners' fourth quarter 2016 commentary.