BHP profit misses estimates

Mining giant announces $2.6 billion investment in controversial Jansen potash project, FY profit falls despite record production.

Lower commodity prices have cut profits for BHP Billiton (BHP) to $US10.87 billion in 2012-13, as the miner announced it will invest $2.6 billion in its controversial Jansen potash project.

Falling iron ore and coal prices pushed underlying profit 31.3% lower to $US11.79 billion – well short of analyst expectations for around $12.7 billion.

Net profit, including significant items, was 29.5% lower at $US10.87 billion.

Falling commodity prices, iron ore and coal hit particularly hard, more than offset record iron ore production and increases in output across most of its commodities.

BHP said weaker commodity prices reduced underlying EBIT by US$8.9 billion.

In the year ending June 30, BHP’s revenues fell 8.7% to $US65.96 billion.

A broader focus on cost cutting and maximising shareholder returns has seen the miner increase its final dividend to 59 US cents per share, just short of analyst expectations, compared to last year's 57 US cents per share (see Robert Gottliebsen's Making BHP more like CBA).

The payout pushes BHP's total dividend to $US1.16 per share compared to last year’s $US1.12 per share.

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