Rising copper prices boost Freeport-McMoRan profit

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

Copper miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc on Wednesday reported a 56% jump in quarterly profit that matched expectations as supply concerns and the global economic recovery from the pandemic drove up prices of the red metal.

Prices of copper, considered to be an economic bellwether, rose by a quarter last year and are expected to continue their positive momentum in 2022 due to the metal’s central role in the energy transition.

In anticipation of rising demand, Freeport expects its capital expenditure to be $4.7 billion in 2022, compared with $2.1 billion last year. Excluding Indonesian smelter projects, the figure is estimated to be $3.3 billion.

The company’s shares rose 1.5% in morning trading.

Freeport’s average realized price of copper soared 30% in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 to $4.42 per pound.

The miner, which has operations in the Americas and Indonesia, said quarterly production of the red metal rose to 1.03 billion pounds, from 864 million pounds a year earlier. Its gold output rose to 405,000 ounces, from 273,000 ounces.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based company earned $1.11 billion, or 74 cents per share in the last three months of 2021, compared with $708 million, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Freeport earned 96 cents per share, matching analysts’ expectations, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue rose 37% to $6.16 billion.

(By Ruhi Soni and Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Aditya Soni and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)


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