Rio Tinto and BHP are tipped to pass 95 per cent of the iron ore boom back to shareholders through dividends, as Anglo American and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong became the lastest multinationals to flirt with the idea of building a new iron ore province in Australia’s mid-west.
Iron ore prices have surged 20 per cent above the 2011 record over the past fortnight and are dragging Australia’s biggest exporter, Rio, into a net cash position just 13 years after it was crippled with debt on the back of the disastrous $US38 billion Alcan acquisition.
Shareholder returns from Rio, BHP and Fortescue will be far more generous than in 2011, when the three miners had big plans to spend on growth and were carrying much bigger debt loads.
Citi analyst Paul McTaggart said BHP and Rio were likely to have payout ratios of 95 per cent at their full year results in August and February respectively.
“They’re going to finish this year with something like $US8 billion of net cash on the balance sheet, so it’s hard to imagine they are not going to have a massive payout ratio, theyve got too much money,” he said of Rio.
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