Antofagasta dampens special dividend hopes as earnings fall

 
City A.M. Reporter
COPPER miner Antofagasta dampened hopes of a special dividend for 2013 yesterday after posting a drop in first-half profit and forecasting challenging market conditions.

Shares in London-listed, Chile-focused Antofagasta have long traded at multiples at the top end of the sector, not least because of its generous shareholder rewards. The company has paid special dividends in nine of the last 10 years.

But less cash coming from its core operations, increased spending on growth projects and comments on short-term copper weakness dented market expectations of another one-off payment, weighing on the stock which fell as much as five per cent.

Majority-owned by Chile’s Luksic family, the group said core profit fell 31.2 per cent to $1.28bn (£820m) for the six months, in line with market expectations, as higher power costs and lower prices overshadowed improved production.