Glencore Stock’s Roller-Coaster Ride Continues Amid Commodity-Price Concerns – by Alex MacDonald (Wall Street Journal – October 6, 2015)

Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg has been talking up prospects for copper prices

LONDON— Glencore PLC’s roller-coaster stock-market ride continued Tuesday, with the shares falling sharply after hefty gains the day before amid management’s efforts to assure investors that the commodities group remains financially robust.

Shares in the Swiss commodities trader and producer fell as much as 8.1% to an intraday low of 106.15 pence a share before paring the losses to a 1.8% drop. The stock is still the worst performer in the U.K.’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index, outpacing the FTSE 350 mining index’s 0.86% fall and the FTSE 100’s 0.1% decline.

Glencore’s shares have been pummeled by concerns that the world’s largest copper supplier and thermal coal exporter may struggle to safeguard its credit rating in light of its heavy debt burden, which is among the highest in the industry.

Investors are concerned about Glencore’s exposure, as a major commodities producer and trader, to slumping prices. Demand has fallen sharply given slower economic growth in China, the world’s largest consumer of many industrial raw materials, while global supplies remain plentiful.

Glencore last month announced $10 billion worth of measures to reduce its net debt by about a third to around $20 billion by the end of 2016. This included scrapping its dividend, issuing $2.5 billion in new equity and selling assets. The group is also considering the sale of a stake in its agricultural unit.

Investors initially cheered the news, pushing the shares higher, but the rally turned into a new share-price slump in the following weeks. Some analysts concluded that the company would have to announce further debt-reduction measures to offset a continued slide in commodity prices, particularly in copper and coal on which Glencore is reliant for much of its earnings.

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