Freeport-McMoRan profit beats on higher gold prices, cost curbs

(Reuters) - Freeport McMoRan Inc FCX.N beat analysts' estimates for third-quarter profit on Thursday, as the miner benefited from higher gold prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic and cost cuts.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based company announced a major cost-cutting drive in April and has also lowered its capital expenditure.

Total costs and expenses fell about 7% to $2.97 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

The average price that Freeport received for its gold surged nearly 28% to 1,902 per ounce in the third quarter, with copper and gold sales nearly 7% higher than the company’s July estimates.

Gold prices have surged this year as investors flocked to safe-haven investments due to the uncertainty fueled by the pandemic.

Freeport said on Thursday plans to transition the giant Grasberg copper and gold project in Indonesia to underground operations from open pit mining were on schedule.

The company reported net income attributable to shareholders of $329 million, or 22 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $207 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Freeport reported a profit of 29 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of 21 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue jumped 22% to $3.85 billion.

Reporting by Shradha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila