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Cliffs Rises as Earnings Beat Analysts’ Estimates on Costs

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., the U.S. iron miner being targeted by an activist shareholder, rose after reporting earnings that beat analysts’ estimates.

Cliffs climbed 5.8 percent to $23.16 at the close in New York. The company reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings after the close yesterday of $1.22 a share, beating the 79-cent average of 20 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales of $1.52 billion also exceeded estimates.

Cliffs “posted another good operating quarter, third in a row, and this should increase investor confidence,” Brian Yu, a San Francisco-based analyst for Citigroup Inc., wrote in a note yesterday. Mining costs at the company’s eastern Canada and Australian facilities fell during the quarter.

Casablanca Capital LP, the company’s fourth-largest shareholder, has pressed Cliffs to spin off foreign assets and double its dividends. The hedge fund said this week it was backing Lourenco Goncalves to take over as chief executive officer of the Cleveland-based company.

Cliffs announced yesterday that Gary Halverson, its chief operating officer since November, would become CEO effective immediately. Halverson is a former COO at Barrick Gold Corp. and was brought in to replace CEO Joseph Carrabba.

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