Copper bulls are looking smart — for now. Some of the world’s biggest mining companies, which have giant copper portfolios, are now poised to reap the rewards, with Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore set to report full- or half-year earnings this week.
The industrial metal has surged more than 30 per cent in the past year, providing rocket fuel for companies that were staring into the abyss a year ago. Shares in Anglo and Glencore have more than tripled in the past 12 months. BHP, which has faced headwinds from a fatal tailings-dam disaster at one of its mining operations in Brazil, is up 62 per cent.
Rio Tinto, which is focusing more on its copper business, offered a preview of how miners’ fortunes have flipped to the upside when it reported earnings earlier this month. The Anglo-Australian mining giant said it returned to a profit in 2016 with $US4.62 billion in earnings, increased its dividend and announced a $US500 million share buyback.
Overall, the miners’ results are expected to highlight a head-snapping turnaround in the past 12 months that has seen the industry pull back from the precipice of financial disaster.
“The past year has brought some reprieve,” said Anglo chief executive Mark Cutifani in a speech this month in South Africa. “While market watchers were ready to sound a death knell on mining’s prospects, we are still here, stronger than we were before.”
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