Rio beats FY earnings forecasts

Major miner reports underlying earnings ahead of estimates, swings to net profit, hikes dividend above expectations.

Rio Tinto (RIO) says it is making progress to transform its business after beating forecasts on underlying earnings and dividend.

Net profit was $US3.67 billion in the 2013 full year, compared with a net loss of $US3.03 billion in the 2012 full year, the miner said.

Underlying profit increased 10% to $US10.2 billion in the 2013 full year, compared with $US9.3 billion in 2012.

A survey of 24 analysts estimated an underlying profit of $US9.656 billion, Bloomberg said.

Cash flow from operations lifted by 22% to $US20.13 billion, compared with $US16.52 billion in the prior year.

The miner will pay a dividend of $US1.92 per share, up by 15% from $US1.67 in the prior year.

A survey of 16 analysts estimated a final dividend of $US1.70, Bloomberg said.

Rio Tinto chief executive officer Sam Walsh said the group had exceeded its cost reduction targets and set production records, enhancing cash flow generation and lowering net debt.

"The 15% increase in our dividend reflects our confidence in the business and its attractive prospects," Mr Walsh said.