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Income Investing

Something Old and Something New

By Roger S. Conrad, on Jan. 31, 2014

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold posted fourth-quarter that contained few surprises. The company’s net income declined by 4.8 percent from year-ago levels, reflecting lower commodity prices that offset growth in production volumes.

The mining giant also maintained its 2014 guidance for copper, gold and molybdenum output, but hiked its forecast for hydrocarbon production to 60.7 million barrels of oil equivalent from 57 million barrels of oil equivalent. These gains are particularly impressive when you factor in extended outages to modify some of the firm’s platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Investors may grouse about the price the Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold paid to acquire McMoran Exploration and Plains Exploration & Production, but the addition of oil and gas to the company’s business mix has helped to bolster margins and offset ongoing price weakness in its legacy markets.

The big cloud hanging over the company: News that the Indonesian government had banned exports of raw material ore such as nickel and bauxite and passed a progressively higher tax on exports of copper concentrate.

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