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BHP Billiton annual net profit up 23.2% to US$13.83b

Global mining giant BHP Billiton posted a 23.2 per cent jump in annual net profit to US$13.83 billion (S$17 billion) on Tuesday, as spending cuts and productivity gains offset weaker commodity prices.

SYDNEY: Global mining giant BHP Billiton posted a 23.2 per cent jump in annual net profit to US$13.83 billion (S$17 billion) on Tuesday, as spending cuts and productivity gains offset weaker commodity prices.

"With robust volume growth and further productivity gains expected, we remain confident in the outlook for the group," BHP's chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said in a statement.

The annual result is the first time BHP has posted a year-on-year increase in net profit since 2011, when it reported a record profit of US$23.65 billion. This year's profit is slightly higher than the US$13.6 billion forecast by analysts.

The productivity boost saw underlying profit rise by 10 per cent to US$13.4 billion as the miner booked US$2.9 billion in cost savings. BHP's balance sheet strengthened during the period, with net debt falling by US$1.7 billion to US$25.8 billion.

The miner declared a final dividend of US$1.21, a four per cent year-on-year increase. Shares in BHP closed 1.35 per cent higher to A$39.68 (US$37.06) on the Australian Securities Exchange ahead of the profit announcement. Mackenzie said the results showed the world's biggest miner had "delivered on its commitments".

"Our operational performance continued to improve, enabling us to exceed production guidance for a number of our core commodities including iron ore, metallurgical coal and petroleum liquids," he added.

BHP said a balanced global economic outlook would provide support for its commodities, although "with more moderate rates of demand growth". "In the longer term, wealth creation and urbanisation will remain the primary drivers of commodities demand, although the transition to consumption-led growth in emerging economies should provide particular support for industrial metals, energy and fertilisers."

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