Freeport McMoRan May Boost Dividend
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX), the largest U.S. copper miner and a bellwether commodities stock, may be in line for a dividend increase after reinstating part of its previously suspended payout earlier this year. Freeport cuts its $2 per share annual dividend in December 2008 as the commodities bubble was bursting to save some cash, but the company reinstated a 60 cent per share annual payout on February 1st.
On Monday, CEO Richard Adkerson said Freeport could raise its dividend this year "assuming reasonable market conditions.“ Adkerson also noted that his company has had a "shareholder friendly“ view of share repurchases. The company said that none of its employees or properties were affected by the recent 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile, one of the most copper-rich countries in the world.
As we noted when we reported on Freeport's dividned reinstatement, at least one analyst is expecting the company to generate $1 billion to $1.5 billion in free cash flow over the next year and that cash could buoy a higher payout. And don't forget that dividend cutters that move quickly to reinstate their payouts often outperform their rivals on a valuation basis.
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