BHP BILLITON unveiled record-breaking profits yesterday on the back of high commodity prices and strong demand from emerging markets, but the world’s largest mining company also struck a gloomy note on the state of the world economy.
BHP reported an eye-watering 74 per cent jump in annual profits to $21.7bn (£13.2bn) – the seventh biggest ever recorded.
The Anglo-Australian group said “another strong year of growth” from its Chinese steel production and soaring iron ore and coal prices helped drive revenues up 36 per cent to $71.7bn for the year ending June.
Like many of its peers, however, chief executive Marius Kloppers cautioned against rising materials and operating costs, making it more difficult to open up new supply and delaying new projects.
“What we have said for three years is that global imbalances and high-levels of sovereign debt create ongoing uncertainty in the global economy and we expect earlier protracted and muted recovery in the developed world,” Kloppers added in a news conference.
The company raised its dividend by 22 per cent, reflecting confidence in “its long-term outlook for commodities”, which have seen a sharp sell-off over the past months on demand concerns.
BHP’s shares, which have fallen 16 per cent so far this year, rose 2.3 per cent last night to £19.33.