ALUMINIUM was the ghost at the BHP Billiton profit feast last week.
Although the aluminium, manganese and nickel division generated more than $9 billion of revenue, it contributed just $164 million of EBIT (earnings before interest and tax).
Compare and contrast that with the jewel in the BHPB crown – iron ore, which on a little more than double that revenue, at $20 billion, contributed more than 67 times as much EBIT, or $11.1 billion.
Incidentally, I never – and I’m equally certain, neither would most other commentators – have ever thought, in the good old days pre-China, that we’d end up describing lumpy, plentiful, iron ore as the ‘jewel” in anyone’s crown.
That it is, certainly in the corporate crowns of BHPB and Rio Tinto. It’s also made multi-billionaires of Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest. In contrast, aluminium ain’t going to make a billionaire of anyone. Thanks to China continuing to smelt uneconomically, aluminium has a knack of turning billionaires, corporate or otherwise, into mere millionaires.