UPDATE 1-Miner Cliffs earnings rise, helped by lower costs

Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:38pm EST

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Cliffs Natural Resources Inc, which is facing against an activist investor who wants to break up the mining company, reported higher fourth-quarter profits on Thursday helped in part by higher iron ore prices and a drop in the cost of goods sold.

The iron ore and metallurgical coal producer said net income rose to $31 million, or 20 cents a share, in the three months to end-December. A year ago, it reported a loss of $1.6 billion, or $11.36 a share, when it wrote down $1 billion related to its 2011 acquisition of Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Ltd.

Revenue was marginally lower at $1.52 billion in the quarter from $1.54 billion as lower prices and sales for coal were partially offset by a 10 percent increase in global seaborne iron ore pricing.

Cleveland-based Cliffs said its earnings included a previously-disclosed $183 million pre-tax charge related to the closure of its Wabush mine in Canada.

The company also recorded a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $81 million related to its suspension of its chromite project in Northern Ontario.

Excluding various one-off items, Cliffs earnings were $218 million, or $1.22 per share, up from $89 million, or 63 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Analysts, on average, had expected the company to earn 77 cents a share on revenue of $1.45 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.