Freeport-McMoRan to trim up to $10 billion debt

By Staff Writer

Jan 29, 2016 01:53 AM EST

On Tuesday, Freeport-McMoRan said that it has planned to trim up to $10 billion debt through earnings from joint venture transactions and asset sales.

The Freeport-McMoRan website announced a net loss attributable to common shares of $4.1 billion for the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to a net loss of $2.9 billion in the previous year quarter. On a per share basis, the company's loss widened to $3.47 from $2.75 in the same period last year.

The company said its fourth-quarter net loss, excluding net charges, amounted to $21 million or $0.02 per share. Quarterly revenues decreased to $3.8 billion from $5.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014. Operating cash flows amounted to $612 million for the final quarter of 2015.

Operating loss for the three month period ended December 31, 2015, was $4.1 billion, wider than $3.3 billion reported in the prior-year period.

For the year 2015, the company reported a net loss attributable to common share of $12.2 billion, or $11.31 per share, compared to a net loss of $1.31 billion, or $1.26 per share in the previous year. Annual revenues dropped to $15.9 billion from $21.4 billion last year. Operating loss totalled $13.4 billion, compared to income of $97 million in the previous year.

Reuters quoted Jeremy Sussman, an analyst at Clarksons Platou Securities, as saying, "Even though it was a wild day, no real change at the end of the day. How Freeport fares in 2016 will have a lot to do with both copper and oil pricing and how the company shapes itself from a strategic standpoint."

Shares of Freeport-McMoRan have tumbled 80% in the past year from the hex of dropping copper and oil prices as well as $20 billion in debt, Reuters noted.

In December 2015, the company suspended the annual common share dividend. The company's stock ended Tuesday trading session at $4.20, up 6.60% or $0.26 and matched with other major copper stocks.

The Financial Times noted that sale of Freeport's assets would be of gigantic interest to miners like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. A slowdown in Chinese GDP coupled with the falling oil price has pushed the company's shares down by over two-thirds in 2015.

Among the peers in the industry, Southern Copper Corp. is expected to report earnings of $1.03 per share for the year 2015, according to G.Nelson, an analyst at BB&T Corp.

In addition, US-based mining group's borrowing are comparatively high, with total debt of 4.67 times earnings excluding tax, depreciation, interest and amortisation. The company said that it plans to maintain a robust financial position, with the main focus on cutting debt and that its Board would move forward to examine the financial strategy on a constant basis.

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