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Rio Tinto Profit Climbs On Prices, Ups Dividend; Plans Addl. $1 Bln Buy Back

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Mining giant Rio Tinto plc (RTPPF.PK,RIO.L,RIO,RTNTF.PK) reported Wednesday significantly higher profit in its fiscal 2017, as sales revenues were benefited by higher average commodity prices as well as increased sales volumes. Further, the company announced higher dividend, and an additional share buy-back of $1.0 billion in Rio Tinto plc shares.

Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said, "Today we have announced a strong set of results with operating cash flow of $13.9 billion, a record full year dividend of $5.2 billion and an additional $1 billion share buy-back. This brings total cash returns to shareholders to $9.7 billion declared for 2017. The strength of our cash flow is a result of resilient prices during the year coupled with a robust operational performance and a focus on mine to market productivity."

In fiscal 2017, net profit to owners of the company totaled $8.76 billion, 90 percent higher than last year's $4.62 billion. Earnings per share grew 91 percent to 486.9 US cents from 255.3 US cents last year.

Underlying earnings were $8.63 billion, compared to $5.10 billion a year ago. 69 percent higher than prior year, driven by $4.1 billion impact of higher prices. Basic underlying earnings per share in US cents was 482.8 compared to 283.8.

The company noted that the effect of all price movements on its commodities in 2017 increased underlying earnings by $4.11 billion compared with 2016.

Further, movements in sales volumes increased earnings by $114 million compared with 2016. The main contributors were higher iron ore shipments from the Pilbara, a 20 percent increase in titanium dioxide slag feedstock sales volumes and a 6 percent rise in bauxite sales.

In the year, EBITDA margin was 44 percent, compared with 38 percent in 2016.

Underlying EBITDA, a key earnings metric, climbed 38 percent from last year to $18.58 billion. Iron Ore group's underlying EBITDA were up 35 percent to $11.52 billion.

Underlying EBITDA of Aluminium group increased 38 percent, Copper & Diamonds climbed 37 percent and that of Energy & Minerals grew 55 percent, benefited
from higher prices, primarily coal, iron ore.

Consolidated full-year sales revenues were $40.03 billion compared to $33.78 billion last year, primarily due to higher average commodity prices.

Rio Tinto announced a final dividend of 180 US cents per share, making the ordinary dividend for the year of 290 US cents per share, up 71 percent. The company also announced an additional share buy-back of $1.0 billion in Rio Tinto plc shares, to be completed by the end of 2018.

Looking ahead, the company expects capital expenditure to remain at around $5.5 billion in 2018 and around $6.0 billion in each of 2019 and 2020. Each year includes approximately $2.0 to 2.5 billion of sustaining capex.

Further, the company maintained production guidance for fiscal 2018.

In London, Rio Tinto shares were trading at 3,849 pence, up 0.10 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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