Cliffs Slashes Dividend 76% as Iron-Ore Prices Fall

Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013 05:19 PM

 

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Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., the biggest U.S. iron ore producer, cut its quarterly dividend by 76 percent after the price of the commodity declined and a Canadian mining project was delayed.

It reduced the payout to 15 cents a share, the Cleveland-based company said Tuesday in a statement. In March, the company raised the dividend to 62.5 cents from 28 cents and said it would shift its strategic focus from mergers and acquisitions to organic growth while returning capital to shareholders.

“The year proved to be challenging both from a market perspective and operationally,” Chairman and Chief Executive Joseph Carrabba said in the statement. “Our ramp-up of Bloom Lake mine has been slower than originally anticipated, resulting in decreased volumes and increased costs.”

Cliffs shares tumbled 8 percent to $33.76 at 4:41 p.m. after the close of regular trading in New York.

Cliffs reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.62 billion, or $11.36 a share, compared with a net income of $185.4 million, or $1.30, a year earlier. Earnings excluding a $1 billion writedown of assets and other one-time items were 62 cents, beating the 51-cent average of 20 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales fell 4.2 percent to $1.54 billion, trailing the $1.53 billion average of 14 estimates.

The company also said in a separate statement that it plans to sell 9 million common shares and 20 million depositary shares and use the proceeds to repay term loan borrowings.

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