If you’ve taken a ride on coal shares in the last few months, it might be time to get off, if you haven’t already.

The unexpected ‘coal boom’ prompted by restrictions on Chinese coal production created a late year spike in coal prices, which then translated to some coal stocks.

Shares in Yancoal, for example, jumped 118 percent over one month around September to October, while investors in Stanmore Coal enjoyed a surge of 84 percent.

More recently, the enthusiasm has definitely subsided. Shares in Yancoal peaked around 55 cents in mid-October, today they are at 38 cents. It is a similar story with Stanmore, where the share price has gone from 82 cents to 70 cents over the same period.

Shares in Whitehaven Coal, well known for its earlier associations with former billionaire Nathan Tinkler, are down 13 percent over November.

All this has mirrored the fluctuations in the coal price, with prices of thermal coal in particular retreated in the last month, down almost 15 percent.

The outlook for coal prices is now much less bullish than it was. The Chinese producers are now able to ramp up their own production, so the brief rally would appear to have run its course.

The smart money, in many cases, will have already bought and sold and made its profits.

If you still hold coal shares, it presents a dilemma. Do you hang on for the rollercoaster to get moving again, or sell out and take what you can. The answer will often be driven by at what point you bought in.

So what to do? The options are to study hard and make yourself a commodities expert, consult an expert, act on gut feeling, or get a crystal ball or a hotline to the Chinese leadership, who can give you some insight into their coal policy.

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