Brazil's Vale misses 3rd qtr income estimate, revenue rises

Brazil's Vale SA on Wednesday posted weaker-than-expected net income, as lower base metals production and prices as well as a weaker real currency weighed on the world's largest iron ore producer.

The miner, also the world's largest nickel producer, reported $1.408 billion in third-quarter net income, 27 percent below analysts' estimate of $1.926 billion. The figure was also well below the $2.23 billion reached in the year-ago period. Heavy spending on Vale's flagship S11D mine, which churns out rich grades of ore, drove up Vale's debt in recent years, coinciding with a sharp slide in iron ore prices.

Vale suffered a $1.263 billion net financial loss in the quarter, hammered by a 3.8 percent depreciation in the real currency. Fears that leftist Fernando Haddad might win presidential elections weighed on the currency ahead of a first round of voting in early October.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, a gauge of operational profit known as EBITDA, rose to $4.374 billion from $4.192 billion in the same period last year and compared to forecasts for $4.296 billion.

But its base metal component slumped to $528 million in the period, down $250 million from the prior quarter, due to lower nickel, copper and cobalt prices and lower volumes due to a scheduled maintenance shutdown at Sudbury operations in Canada.

Free cash flow reached a robust $3.113 billion, helping Vale cut its debt to $10.704 billion, its lowest since 2009, from $11.519 billion in the second quarter. However, it failed to reach its net debt goal of $10 billion which Chief Executive Officer Fabio Schvartsman forecast in January for the middle of the year.

Vale trimmed its capital expenditures to $692 million in the quarter from $863 million in the same period last year. Net operating revenue rose to $9.543 billion, above the $9.050 billion in the third quarter of 2017. Analysts had expected revenue of $9.456 billion.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Richard Chang)