BHP Billiton H1 profit up 31 pct on cost cuts, output growth

MELBOURNE Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:39pm EST

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MELBOURNE Feb 18 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton reported a 31 percent rise in first-half underlying profit on Tuesday, well above market forecasts, bolstered by aggressive cost cutting and volume growth.

"We are well placed to extend our strong track record of capital management," the top global miner said.

Underlying attributable profit rose to $7.76 billion for the six months to December, up from $5.94 billion a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting a profit of $6.93 billion on the same basis.

Despite beating profit forecasts, BHP raised its interim dividend by only 3.5 percent to $0.59 a share, in line with consensus and its normal practice of paying an interim dividend in line with the final dividend from the year before.

BHP's Australian shares closed at A$38.02 on Monday ahead of the half-year results, down 1.7 percent over the past year.

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