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Rio Tinto beats forecasts but prices still a concern – UPDATE – MoneyWeek

Copperpricesweredown14%to367centsperpound,aluminiumpricesaveraged15%lowerat$2,081pertonneandmolybdenumwas17%lowerto$14。

8perpound。

TheaveragePlattspricefor62%Pilbarafinesdeclinedby21%comparedwith2011firsthalf。

Averagethermalcoalpriceswerehigherinthe2012firsthalfcomparedwith2011firsthalf,althoughthe2012/13Japanesefiscalyearcontractprice,applicablefromApril2012,islowerthanthepreviouscontractprice。

Totalgrossrevenuefromironorefellfrom$13。

76mto$12。

46myear-on-year,whiletotalcoppergrossrevenuedeclinedfrom$4。

15mto$3。

22m。

Aluminiumgrossrevenuedroppedfrom$6。

37mto$5。

02m。

Higherenergycostsacrossthegroupalsopushedunderlyingearningslower,contributing$12mmoretothelossthaninthesameperiodthepreviousyear。

Inthesixmonthperiodmanyoperationswereimpactedbyhigherfuel,dieselandpowerrates,thefirmsaid。

Othercashcostswerealsohigherduringthefirsthalf,decreasingunderlyingearningsby$388mcomparedwith2011duetoacombinationoffixedproductioncostinefficienciesassociatedwithlowervolumesduetograde,highermaintenancecostsandcostsassociatedwithoperationalreadinessforthePilbaraexpansionofironoreproduction。

TheChiefExecutive,TomAlbanese,waskeentounderlinethelowcostnatureofitsbusinesseswhichhelpedpushmarginshigher,butdidadmitthatacrossthesectorminersarefacingincreasingcosts,somethingRiohashadtotakestepsagainst,sayingitremainsamajorareaoffocusaswecontinuallyseektoenhanceouroperationalandfinancialperformance。

Headded:Weareplacingahighpriorityonproductivityimprovementsatouroperations,wherearound90%ofourcostsareincurred,andareimplementingaprogrammetoimprovetheefficiencyandeffectivenessofoursupportandservicefunctionsacrossthebusiness。

Evidentlythecompanyisnttooconcernedthough,havingincreaseditsdividendpaymentsby34centsto72。

5cents,inlinewithitspolicy。

Albanesecontinued:WeexpecttoseesignsofimprovementsinChineseeconomicactivitybytheendoftheyear,withgrowthpickingupmorestronglyasgovernmentstimulusmeasuresannouncedinthesecondquarterbegintoflowthroughtoinfrastructureinvestment。

Around500oftheseinvestmentprojectsareslatedtostartlaterthisyearandin2013。

Netdebtincreasedfrom$8。

5bnatDecember31stto$13。

2bnatJune30thasstrongoperatingcashinflowswereoffsetbyoutflowsrelatingtocapitalexpenditure,acquisitions,theincreaseinthedividendandthesharebuy-backprogramme。

Inlinewiththegroupsownoutlook,theInvestorChroniclesaysitremainsabuyerofthestockonalong-termview。

NR

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