COLUMN-BHP is sailing between China stimulus breeze and trade war storm: Russell – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – August 20, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Spot the problem. The world’s biggest mining company, BHP Group, reports its highest profits in five years even as its top customer is engaged in a now protracted trade dispute with the world’s largest economy.

BHP on Tuesday posted an annual profit of $9.12 billion, a bumper figure built largely on selling iron ore, coal and copper to China, the world’s largest importer of commodities.

BHP’s results show it has so far managed steer a safe course, with its sails filled with the wind of Chinese stimulus spending, but the stormy seas of the trade war threaten to blow it off course. The underlying profit was slightly below the $9.4 billion forecast by analysts, but was up from the $8.93 billion a year earlier.

The final dividend of 78 U.S. cents a share was also slightly below expectations, but could be taken as a sign that BHP is holding back some cash because of the uncertainties ahead.

BHP Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie said the U.S.-China trade spat has yet to have a big impact on demand for the company’s commodities, but he is mindful of the risks.

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