Freeport-McMoRan Earnings Lifted by Oil and Gas Production

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Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) reported third-quarter 2013 results before markets opened Tuesday morning. The mining company posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.79 on revenues of $6.17 billion. In the same period a year ago, Freeport-McMoRan reported EPS of $0.86 on revenues of $4.42 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.62 on revenues of $5.69 billion.

While that may look pretty good, in April the consensus EPS estimate was $0.76, and just one month ago the estimate was $0.60. The rising mining costs and the lower price of gold has hit Freeport hard, and the same will be true for the other gold miners.

The company’s officers said:

Our third quarter results reflect strong operating performance from our global mining business together with an impressive and significant contribution from our recently acquired oil and gas operations.

Freeport completed its acquisitions of Plains Exploration & Production and McMoRan at the end of June, and the added revenue from oil and gas operations totaled $1.3 billion in the third quarter. Cash operating margin totaled $64.13 per barrel of oil equivalent on 16.5 million equivalent barrels.

The company has narrowed its production outlook for the full year since the end of the second quarter. Sales of copper are forecast at 4.1 billion pounds, unchanged from the prior estimate. Forecast gold sales are unchanged at 1.1 million ounces, and molybdenum sales are forecast at 92 million pounds, the upper end of the previous range. Forecast oil and gas production for the fourth quarter totals 16 million barrels of oil equivalent, which would bring total production since June 1 to 37.5 million equivalent barrels, slightly higher than the earlier forecast of 35 million barrels. Overall, the forecast is slightly improved.

Net cash costs per pound of copper fell from $1.62 a year ago to $1.46 in the third quarter, based on current sales volumes. At a price of $1,300 an ounce for gold and $9.50 a pound for molybdenum, consolidated unit net cash costs (net of by-product credits) are expected to average $1.58 a pound for copper in 2013.

Shares were up about 4.3% at $36.55 in premarket trading Tuesday morning, in a 52-week range of $26.37 to $40.84. Prior to the release, Thomson/Reuters had a consensus price target of around $37.30 on the company0s shares.

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