Miner and commodities trader Glencore (LON:GLEN) became Thursday the latest company to prove the mining industry is coming back up from one of the sector’s most severe downturns by posting a 48% increase in 2016 profits.
A surge in commodity prices combined with Glencore’s multibillion-dollar asset fire-sale not only helped it swing back to profit, but also to declare it is now better financially-positioned than ever before. This, said the Swiss company, gives it the chance to resume expansion plans and even pay large dividends.
“The plan of action we initiated in September 2015 to sensibly bring down our financial leverage and strengthen our balance sheet is now complete,” chief executive officer Ivan Glasenberg said in a statement.
Net debt, quite the burden in 2015, dropped 40% cent to $15.5 billion at the end of last year, and could fall below $10 billion by the end of 2017, Glasenberg noted.
He also said Glencore is in position to offer a significant one off payout to shareholders if net debt falls below $10 billion.
“We will have room to kick out a $20bn special dividend if we really want to get aggressive and there’s nothing else to do on the M&A space,” he said while presenting the results. But he added his company wouldn’t pay it in one shot. “I’m just saying the calculations allow you do that,” Glasenberg said.
Glencore’s boss also opened the door for acquisitions, saying the company is already looking for opportunities, mainly around in assets where it already has stakes or partnerships.
In fact, it has already begun doing some of that as last week, the company bought stakes in Mutanda and Katanga copper and cobalt operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo for $960 million.
The company’s board has recommended a dividend of 7 cents per share after Glencore promised late last year it would reinstate payouts.
This year, the firm expects between $2.2 billion to $2.5 billion in marketing profits, adding the low range reflected the sale of 50% of its agriculture business in December 2016.