Cliffs Natural Resources Getting Banged Down After Big Earnings Miss

October 27, 2016 by Paul Ausick

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) reported third-quarter 2016 results before markets opened Thursday. The iron ore and coal miner posted a net loss per share of $0.12 on revenues of $553.3 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported a loss per share of $0.10 on revenues of $593.2 million. The consensus estimate called for earnings per share of $0.17 on revenues of $581.01 million.

Cliffs reported a net loss of $28 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $6 million. During the quarter, Cliffs recorded an $18 million loss on debt restructuring and extinguishment.

Total U.S. iron ore production volume fell from 4.1 million metric tons (tonnes) in the third quarter of last year to 3.86 million tonnes, but sales margins per tonne rose from $8.70 to $12.57.

The company’s total iron ore production in Asia/Pacific was essentially flat at 2.97 million tonnes, compared with 2.93 million tonnes in the year-ago quarter, and sales margins rose more than triple, from $2.20 in the year-ago quarter to $6.75.

CEO Lourenco Goncalves said:

In the third quarter, we reduced our debt by another $500 million, bringing our net debt down to $2 billion. Our flawless operational performance, commercial accomplishments and financial execution during the last two years have earned the respect of investors and banking institutions, allowing us to execute in Q3 another important transaction: the early repayment of the 2018 Notes. With that, we have eliminated the last obstacle in our way to better times. We look forward to finishing out the year strong in Q4, in what we anticipate to be a quarter with substantial cash-flow generation.

Cliffs reiterated its U.S. full-year sales projection of around 18 million tonnes. Cash production costs are still expected at $50 to $55 per tonne. In Asia/Pacific, the company expects sales volume of 11.5 million tonnes and cash production costs of $25 to $30 per tonne.

According to a report from Reuters, iron ore on the Dalian exchange in China jumped to more than $61 a tonne on the spot market Tuesday.

Consensus estimates call for a fourth-quarter profit of $0.23 per share and revenues of $656.6 million. For the year, analysts are looking for a net profit per share of $1.06 on sales of $2.05 billion.

The company maintained its capex estimate of $75 million for the year.

Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE), the world’s largest iron ore miner, Thursday morning reported $3 billion in adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter, largely due to rising prices and cost cutting. Vale’s shares traded up about 0.4% Thursday morning at $6.94, more than triple the 52-week low of $2.13.

Cliffs traded down more than 12% Thursday morning, at $5.45 in a 52-week range of $1.20 to $8.45. The consensus price target is $5.63 before the report.