Antofagasta surprises with generous dividend but core profit falls

LONDON, March 18 Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:29am EDT

LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - Chilean copper miner Antofagasta announced on Tuesday a better than expected dividend for 2013 although falling metal prices and soaring costs offset an increase in output and hit its annual core profit.

The London-listed miner said it will pay a final dividend of 86.1 cents per share, representing a pay-out ratio for the year of 142 percent of earnings, well above an anticipated return to the minimum 35 percent payout.

The miner said annual core profit, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), was $2.7 billion, slightly below a company-provided analyst consensus of $2.74 billion and down from $3.83 billion a year ago.

In January, Antofagasta reported a 1.6 percent rise in its 2013 production to 721,200 tonnes and estimated it would produce 700,000 tonnes of copper this year, a repeat of its 2013 guidance.

Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange fell by more than 7 percent last year on concerns over economic growth in top metals consumer China.

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