Freeport-McMoRan boosts dividend by 50%

Cerro Verde copper mine. (Image courtesy of Fluor.)

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) announced on Wednesday that its board of directors has declared a cash dividend of $0.075 per share on FCX’s common stock payable on May 3, 2021, to stockholders of record as of April 15, 2021.

In a news release, the Arizona-based miner said the dividend is part of its strategic objectives of maintaining a strong balance sheet, increasing cash returns to shareholders and advancing opportunities for future growth.

In March 2020, Freeport announced its decision to slash costs and stop dividend payments due to the rapid worldwide spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, earlier this year, the company adopted a new financial policy, which includes the reinstatement of a base dividend at an annual rate of $0.30 per share. This represents a 50% increase on its previous cash dividend of $0.20 per share prior to suspending these payments last year.

The policy also includes a performance-based payout framework, to be implemented following achievement of a net debt target in the range of $3-$4 billion, excluding project debt for additional smelting capacity in Indonesia.

Under the performance-based payout framework, up to 50% of available cash flows generated after planned capital spending and distributions to noncontrolling interests would be allocated to shareholder returns, and the balance to debt reduction and investments in value-enhancing growth projects, the company said.

The increased dividend payment comes as the copper giant saw unprecedented production in 2020. Copper output climbed to 3.2 billion pounds for the year, while 855,000 ounces of gold and 80 million pounds of molybdenum were also produced. For the year, the company generated $3 billion in operating cash flow.

Freeport was the best-performing mining stock from late March to year-end 2020.

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