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Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Q4 Profit Rises, Results Top View

Mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc. (FCX: Quote) reported Tuesday a profit for the fourth quarter that increased from last year, reflecting revenue growth amid improved average realized prices, production and sales of copper, gold and molybdenum.

Both earnings per share and quarterly revenues topped analysts' expectations. The company also provided sales volume forecast for copper, gold and molybdenum for the first quarter, and for the full-year 2013.

"Our global team continues to achieve strong and safe production while aggressively managing costs and executing on financially attractive projects to grow our copper production from 3.66 billion pounds in 2012 to over 5 billion pounds per annum in 2015," Chairman of the Board James Moffett, and President and CEO Richard Adkerson said in a statement.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based world's second-largest copper producer posted net income of $743 million $0.78 per share for the fourth quarter, higher than $640 million or $0.67 per share in the prior-year quarter.

On average, 17 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $0.70 per share for the fourth quarter. Analysts' estimate typically excludes special items.

Revenues for the quarter grew to $4.51 billion from $4.16 billion in the same quarter last year, and topped twelve Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of $4.47 billion by a whisker.

Average realized price per ounce for gold was $1,681, compared to $1,656 a year ago, the average realized price per pound of molybdenum was $12.62, compared to last year's $15.08, and the average realized price per pound of copper was $3.60, compared to $3.42 last year.

Consolidated sales from mines for fourth quarter totaled 972 million pounds of copper, 254,000 ounces of gold and 21 million pounds of molybdenum, compared to 823 million pounds of copper, 133,000 ounces of gold and 19 million pounds of molybdenum recorded in the prior-year quarter.

Consolidated production from mines for quarter totaled 1.01 billion pounds of copper, 251,000 ounces of gold and 24 million pounds of molybdenum, compared to 823 million pounds of copper, 181,000 ounces of gold and 18 million pounds of molybdenum recorded in the year-ago quarter.

For fiscal 2012, the company reported net income of $3.04 billion or $3.19 per share, sharply lower than $4.56 billion or $4.78 per share in the prior year. Analysts expected the company to report earnings of $3.15 per share for fiscal 2012.

Net revenues for the full year declined to $18.01 billion from $20.88 billion in the previous year. Street was looking for full-year 2012 revenues of $18.15 billion.

Looking ahead to the first quarter, the company projects consolidated sales volumes from mines of about 940 million pounds of copper, 230,00 ounces of gold and 23 million pounds of molybdenum.

For fiscal 2013, the company sees consolidated sales volumes from mines of about 4.3 billion pounds of copper, 1.4 million ounces of gold and 90 million pounds of molybdenum.

Meanwhile, FCX agreed in early December 2012 to acquire Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP: Quote) and McMoRan Exploration Co. (MMR: Quote) in transactions totaling $20 billion, including assumed debt, which would create a premier U.S.-based natural resource company. The transactions are expected to close in second-quarter 2013.

In Tuesday's regular trading session, FCX is currently trading at $34.34, up $0.70 or 2.08% on a volume of 1.01 million shares.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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