potinsnews.com March 25, 2017

Rio Tinto exits Bunder diamond proj; MP govt takes over assets

09 February 2017, 12:35 | Chelsea Hernandez

Argo managing director Jason Beddow says BHP and Rio are likely to stay in favour for a while NAB is the cheapest of the banks. Jessica Hromas

Argo managing director Jason Beddow says BHP and Rio are likely to stay in favour for a while NAB is the cheapest

Last year's 81 percent surge in iron ore prices helped the world's second-biggest mining company report its first gain in annual profit since 2013, exceeding analysts' expectations.

The company posted underlying earnings of $5.1bn in its full year results, a much healthier figure than its $4.5bn in pre-tax profit from the year prior, which were its worst earnings in over a decade.

Rio says it will pay an annual dividend of US$1.70/share, down 21% from last year's $2.15/share but well above the $1.36 analyst consensus and the company's stated commitment to pay a minimum $1.10 dividend.

Chief executive Jean-S├ębastien Jacques said in a statement: "We enter 2017 in good shape". Revenues, meanwhile, declined on weak commodity prices.

EBITDA margin of 38 percent in 2016 increased from 34 percent in 2015, reflecting the positive impact of the cash cost improvements. The Company focuses on finding, mining, processing and marketing the Earth's mineral resources.

Net debt across the company was reduced by 30 per cent, to $9.5bn.

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The Anglo-Australian miner also announced it would be repurchasing $500m of its shares over the course of 2017, signalling the group's confidence in its recovery from the commodities downturn.

The result was also boosted by $1.3 billion worth of asset sales in Rio's coal and aluminium business.

Overall, Rio Tinto said the buyback and dividend represents 70% of its underlying earnings for the year. The shares reached an nearly four-year high in late January.

Rio Tinto (RIO) shares are down 1% today though the miner's earnings showed balance sheet strength thanks to a rise in metals prices.

The company is in a "strong position to deliver superior shareholder returns", he added.

"At the same time, we strengthened the portfolio and advanced our high-value growth projects as we look to the future", he said. Capital expenditure will be USD5.00 billion, rising to USD5.50 billion annually in 2018 and 2019, it said. Last month, Rio agreed to sell most of the company's thermal coal assets to a firm controlled by China's Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. for US$2.45 billion.

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