The world's biggest mining group, BHP Billiton, says its second-half net profit has more than doubled on strong demand for industrial raw materials and forecast sustained high prices for commodities. Yesterday's result swept its full-year net profit to a record US$3.38 billion ($5.08 billion), the highest ever by an Australian company and roughly in line with forecasts. BHP Billiton shares closed down 1.4 per cent at A$13.15 ($14.16) in a mostly flat market, trimming its gain this year to 7.9 per cent. In the year to June 30, BHP Billiton shares jumped 45 per cent on the Australian Stock Exchange. The company, a big gainer from China's growing hunger for imported raw materials, said it expected China's economy to ease modestly, but said it should remain a large and sustainable consumer of raw materials and resources. The dip in BHP Billiton shares partly reflected disappointment that it did not pay a special dividend expected by some investors, analysts said. "The result itself was a strong number and was not too far out from consensus," said Daiwa Securities analyst Mark Pervan. "It was a little bit disappointing from a dividend point of view." The company said its board was reviewing options to return capital of up to US$2 billion, including via share buy-backs, informs Business News. According to the Border Mail, soaring commodity prices have pushed BHP Billiton Ltd to a record net profit for 2003-2004, with the dual-listed company nearly doubling the previous years result. The worlds largest diversified miner also said voracious demand from China and limited world stockpiles could sustain high prices into the future. BHP Billiton reported a net profit of $4.9 billion, up 83 per cent, and announced plans to return $2.8 billion to shareholders in a capital management strategy which could include a share buyback. The profit result was a corporate record for Australia, topping Telstras $4.12 billion 2003-2004 net profit reported last week. Mining companies are among the first beneficiaries of an economic upturn. While car manufacturers and construction firms salivate at the prospects of demand growth, it is the mining companies that start the ball rolling by supplying the raw materials for those products. Booming economies give rise to booming commodity prices, and yesterday it was the turn of BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest diversified miner, to tell its shareholders just how much hay it was making from the current period of sunshine. Chinese industrial activity is responsible for a lot of the brightness. Although China takes only 10 per cent of BHP’s raw materials, its insatiable appetite has helped to propel the global price of most commodities to long-term highs. BHP does not have to sell its coal, copper and ferrochrome directly to China to enjoy the benefits accruing from burgeoning demand in the Middle Kingdom, publishes Times Online. Read earlier stories by RPAVDA.Ru about development of China and Australian economies &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/04/01/27276.html' target=_blank> Pravda.RU The Chinese variant of globalization
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