BHP Billiton profits up 72% on surging demand

16th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The world's top miner BHP Billiton Wednesday said half-year profits surged 72 percent to US$10.52 billion as emerging markets snap up raw materials and the West edges out of its economic slump.

BHP, which was foiled in takeover plans for Canadian fertilizer giant Potash Corp. and an Australian iron ore merger with arch-rival Rio Tinto, also said it would buy back US$10.0 billion in its shares this year.

Chief executive Marius Kloppers said the results had been achieved despite BP's major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and flood disasters, including inundations which paralysed mining in Australia.

"We are proud of the results, despite things like the Gulf of Mexico events and floods around the world," Kloppers told a media briefing.

"The portfolio has shown that it performs at record margins, almost record cash flow, and we have done that in a manner which has been safe.

"We're very pleased with what opportunities the market has afforded us and how we have responded to them."

BHP said supply problems had buoyed prices for its products, which notably include coal and iron ore bound for industrialising Asia's steel mills, while its Western Australian iron ore shipments set a new record.

It said operating cash flow was at US$12.2 billion, while shareholders would receive an improved interim dividend of 46 US cents.

"An improving economic backdrop and broader supply constraints continued to support the fundamentals for the majority of BHP Billiton's core commodities," BHP said in a statement.

But the company added that sovereign debt problems and growing inflation in Asia remained significant risks to future growth.

© 2011 AFP

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