Glencore's marketing division EBIT to come in at top of range

LONDON, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Miner and trader Glencore said its marketing division's EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) for 2017 would be at the top end of its previous guidance at $2.8 billion, adding it was maintaining a policy of cautious growth.

Glencore in October had raised its marketing division's full-year EBIT guidance to between $2.6 billion and $2.8 billion, reflecting higher raw materials prices.

The company also confirmed its 2018 dividend policy would include a fixed dividend of $1 billion and said it would reactivate idled capacity "when appropriate".

The market has been waiting for news of when Glencore might bring back online 500,000 tonnes of zinc capacity, idled in 2015 when commodity prices were crashing, and of when African copper output would be ramped up.

Zinc prices this year reached their highest levels in a decade, but have slipped from their peaks.

Glencore also issued guidance for full-year 2018 EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of $16.2 billion, compared with Investec analysts' forecast of $16.3 billion. Investec rates Glencore a buy.

In a statement, Glencore said it would continue to grow but only while avoiding too much debt and maintaining a net debt to EBITDA ratio of less than 2, a closely-watched measure in the capital-intensive mining sector.

"We will continue to focus on creating value through capital efficient growth within a conservative balance sheet structure," CEO Ivan Glasenberg said.

Growing through partnerships, which are less costly, would "remain a key element of our approach," he added.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis and Arathy S Nair)