South32 delivers 14% profit increase, doubles dividend

BHP spin-off South32 has posted its half-year (HY) financial results up to December 2017, recording a 14 per cent jump in profits to $US544 million ($685 million), up from the previous half’s $US479 million ($603 million), but down 12 per cent from the same time last year.

Dividends also saw a leap; interim ordinary dividends posted at 4.3 US cents per share (up from 3.6 cents per share) with an additional special dividend of 3.0 US cents per share.

In total, this meant the overall dividend increased to 7.3 cents per share, more than doubling its previous year rate.

The company posted no fatalities for HY2018, and greenhouse gas emissions were reported at 11.1 million tonnes (Mt), which if they stay on course for the rest of the financial year should lead to an overall annual output slightly lower than FY2017 (22.6Mt).

Graham Kerr, CEO of South32, said the production for the majority of the company’s operations was tracking ahead of schedule after a challenging start to the 2018 financial year.

“We achieved record production at Australian Manganese and Mozal Aluminium, increased production guidance at South Africa Manganese in response to favourable market conditions, and delivered a 23 per cent increase in payable nickel production at Cerro Matoso as ore grades improved,” Kerr said.

“We continue to deliver strong returns by maintaining a disciplined and flexible approach to capital management. We resolved to pay $US378 million in shareholder dividends, directed $US93 million to our buy-back program and announced a further $US250 million increase to our capital management program to $US1 billion, leaving $US540 million outstanding.”