Freeport-McMoRan looks to quicken debt reduction plans

Reuters

Diversified U.S. miner and oil producer Freeport-McMoRan Inc said it would look to reduce its hefty debt load and reported a lower-than-expected adjusted loss in the fourth quarter, squeezed by plunging commodity prices and flagging Chinese demand.

Shares of the company were up 8.6 pct in premarket trading on Tuesday.

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The Phoenix, Arizona-based company said it was looking to advance the sale of interests in certain mining assets to help reduce its debt, which stood at $20.43 billion at the end of December, nearly four times its market value of about $5 billion.

The company, which is the biggest U.S.-listed copper miner, suspended its annual dividend and made deeper cuts in capital spending and copper production, in early December as it looked for ways to preserve cash in the fifth year of a commodity price downturn.

The company's average realized price for copper in the quarter fell to $2.18 a pound, from $2.95 in the same period last year.

Copper prices are expected to hit their lowest average in more than a decade this year due to weak demand from China, the metal's top consumer, and an over supplied market.

Excluding charges of $4.1 billion, the company reported an adjusted net loss of $21 million, or 2 cents a share, for the quarter ended December 31, above analysts' estimates of a loss of 17 cents.

Revenue fell nearly 28 percent to $3.8 billion. (Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver and Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)