South32’s Full-Year Earnings Jump 41% on Aluminum, Alumina

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South32 Ltd., the miner spun out of BHP Billiton Ltd. in May, said full-year earnings rose 41 percent helped by its aluminum and alumina operations.

Underlying earnings were $575 million in the year ended June 30, compared to a pro forma $407 million a year earlier, the Perth-based miner said Monday in a statement.

South32, the world’s biggest manganese ore producer, had record output of alumina in Brazil, metallurgical coal and manganese alloy in Australia and manganese ore from South Africa. A cost-cutting program also boosted earnings, it said.

The company will seek to reduce costs by at least $350 million a year for the next three years, and is continuing a review of South Africa manganese operations that may lead to a further reduction in planned production, it said.

“Cost cutting and asset sales are likely,” Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “There’s got to be questions about manganese assets and what they are going to do with them.”

The producer fell as much as 7.9 percent in Sydney trading and closed at A$1.405, the lowest since it debuted in May, amid a wider sell-off in commodities and stocks.

Lower Costs

The producer’s profits are being shielded from the full sting of faltering demand in China that’s eroding earnings for its competitors. The world’s biggest buyer of metals accounts for about 11 percent of its sales, while BHP and Rio Tinto Group rely on the nation for about a third of their revenue. Rio’s first-half underlying profit plunged 43 percent.

“Broader cost saving initiatives are already delivering strong results,” Chief Executive Officer Graham Kerr said in the statement.

X2 Resources, led by former Xstrata Plc Chief Executive Officer Mick Davis, is weighing an eventual bid for South32 and offered BHP about $10 billion for most of the assets last year, people familiar with the fund’s plans said in April.

South32 has hired Morgan Stanley, Macquarie as defense advisers, people with knowledge of the matter said in July.