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Rio Tinto pledges 'growth agenda,' declares record dividend

|About: Rio Tinto plc (RIO)|By:, SA News Editor

Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO-1.7% premarket despite declaring a record dividend after reporting its highest annual profit in three years.

Rio's full-year dividend of $2.90/share is 70% higher than last year, reflecting higher prices for iron ore and the other commodities it sells; it also announces an additional $1B share buyback and reports a 69% jump in underlying earnings for 2017 to $8.63B, roughly in line with analyst consensus of $8.74B.

Rio says net debt has dropped to $3.8B from $9.5B a year ago, and higher commodity prices helped drive full-year revenues up 18.3% to $40B.

CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques says Rio has a "growth agenda" and is looking at opportunities, including lithium. "We are very well positioned to take advantage of any kind of opportunities."

“The company is in very good shape, and I certainly wouldn’t rule out the idea of even better returns next year,” says CFO Chris Lynch.

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