Antofagasta's revenue falls on copper price rout

Jessica Morris
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Antofagasta said copper prices could recover in late 2017, early 2018 (Source: Getty)

Antofagasta's shares shed 10.1 per cent to 483.40p this morning, as it revealed the full impact of the copper price rout.

The figures

Antofagasta's revenue fell 34 per cent to $3.4bn in the year ending December 31, down from $5.1bn a year earlier.

This came as the FTSE 100-listed miner's average realised copper price slumped 24 per cent to $2.28 per lb last year, down from $3 in 2014.

Similarly, copper sales shrank by 9.5 per cent to 635.9 kt during this period, while gold sales decreased by 18 per cent to 219.2 koz.

Copper production fell 74,500 tonnes to 630,300 tonnes in 2015, due to lower output at four of its mines in Chile.

It said no final dividend would be paid for 2015, since the interim dividend of 3.1 cents had met its 35 per cent payout target.

Why it's interesting

The average London Metal Exchange copper price shrank by 19.8 per cent to $2.50 per lb during this period, and this was reflected in Antofagasta's revenue.

However the miner is fighting back with cost cuts, with total capital expenditure approximately $1.1bn in 2015, and expected to drop slightly to some $1bn in 2016.

Antofagasta is also boosting production to defend and even grow its market share. It expects to produce 710,000 to 740,000 tonnes of copper next year, and 245,000 to 275,000 ounces of gold.

It added that if economic fundamentals improve, copper prices should stabilise during a period of small supply surpluses before recovering in late 2017, early 2018.

What Antofagasta said

"Each of our mines continued to generate cash flow at the operating level despite the exceptionally challenging operating environment," Diego Hernández, chief executive of Antofagasta, said.

The year was one of change and the group has emerged stronger, more focused on its core business and operating at significantly lower costs."

"We know that copper is a cyclical industry and as a result of the actions that we have taken over the past year we will be positioned to benefit from the recovery when it comes."

What analysts said:

"A decision to pass on its final dividend and cut its 2015 annual payout from 13.5p to 2.0p, is putting renewed pressure on shares in copper miner Antofagasta today," Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said.

"This move by Antofagasta represents a stunning change from the glory years of 2010, 2011 and 2012 when it paid out three special dividends worth a total of 127p per share, an enormous number compared to today’s 486p share price and one that shows how the mining industry’s fortunes have changed as commodity prices have tumbled."

In short:

Antofagasta's scrapped its dividend as it cuts costs to weather the rout, however it said copper prices could recover in late 2017, early 2018.

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