Vale posts best week in 20 months on metals rebound, nickel plans

Nickel smelter in Sorowako, Indonesia. (Image by Marcelo Coelho, courtesy of Vale).

Vale SA capped its best week since January last year amid a recovery in industrial metal prices and as investors welcomed the miner’s latest push to unlock value at its nickel and copper division.

Shares in the world’s No. 2 iron ore producer and major nickel supplier surged 11% this week, outpacing peers. That’s as iron ore futures recover from a nine-month low and nickel jumps 12%. The industry is getting a boost from a slight pullback in the dollar at a time when the onset of peak construction season in China bolsters sentiment.

In Vale’s case, the metal price recovery is adding to a positive reaction from an update of the company’s base-metals turnaround presented to analysts and investors in Canada this week. The Rio de Janeiro-based firm raised its nickel output guidance while signaling it expects a final decision on the way forward for base metals by year-end. Bank of America Corp. analysts noted Vale’s “more vocal” approach regarding the base-metals plans, estimating it could unlock as much as $13 billion.

“Management stated they believe the best course of action is to create a dedicated vehicle for future-facing commodities,” the BofA analysts wrote. “The company’s idea is to have a vehicle independent from Vale, both on a governance, as well as in a balance sheet basis.”

(By Mariana Durao and Vinícius Andrade)

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