Freeport-McMoRan 2Q profit more than doubles

PHOENIX (AP) ? Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. said Thursday its second-quarter earnings more than doubled as it produced and sold more copper and gold to take advantage of higher prices.

The Phoenix mining giant reported net income of $1.37 billion, or $1.43 per share, after paying preferred dividends for the three months ended June 30. That compares with $649 million, or 70 cents per share, for the same period last year. Excluding net losses on early extinguishment of debt, Freeport said it earned $1.49 per share.

Revenue increased 50.5 percent to $5.81 billion from $3.86 billion a year ago.

The results beat Wall Street estimates of $1.33 per share on sales of $5.69 billion, according to a survey by FactSet.

Freeport said copper prices increased 38 percent in the second quarter to $4.22 per pound while gold prices increased 22 percent to $1,509 per ounce. Molybdenum prices slipped by 2 cents to $18.16 per pound. Freeport capitalized on the price increases by cranking up production 4 percent for copper and 11 percent for gold.

At its flagship Grasberg mine, which holds the world’s largest reserves of copper and gold, Freeport said it expects sales to fall this year. The decline is partly due to an eight-day labor strike in July that temporarily halted operations at the mine. Freeport estimates the strike cut production by 35 million pounds of copper and 60,000 ounces of gold.

Overall, it expects copper sales to be flat this year at 3.9 billion pounds. Gold sales should decline about 14 percent to 1.6 million ounces, and molybdenum will increase 15 percent to 77 million pounds.

Freeport said it will more than double exploration spending to $250 million this year.

Shares rose 43 cents to $56.35 in morning trading.