April 28, 2011 / 10:40 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Iron ore company Cliffs' Q1 profit soars

* Q1 EPS $3.11 vs $0.57 cents year ago

* Revenue rises 63 pct to $1.2 billion

NEW YORK, April 28 (Reuters) - Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (CLF.N) reported more than a five-fold increase in first-quarter profit as demand and prices for its iron ore and steel-making coal soared.

Net earnings were $423 million, or $3.11 per share, compared with $77 million, or 57 cents per share in the quarter a year earlier. Revenue rose 63 percent to $1.2 billion, the Cleveland-based company said on Thursday.

Cliffs exceeded analysts’ average estimate of $2.22 per share in profit, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In January, Chief Executive Joseph Carrabba said the company’s increased exposure to global pricing was a big part of the strategy behind its $4 billion deal to acquire Canada’s Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines CLM.TO. The price of iron ore, a key ingredient for steelmaking, soared over 40 percent in 2010.

Cliffs said it is increasing its 2011 sales volume expectations for North American iron ore to 29 million tons from 28 million tons.

Prices of coking coal, another steelmaking ingredient, have also surged after massive flooding disrupted shipments and production in Australia.

Carrabba said Cliffs is boosting its U.S. exports of iron ore pellets up to five-fold this year to take advantage of “exceptionally high” global prices. (Reporting by Steve James; Additional reporting by Helen Kearney; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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