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Record Rio returns for shareholders

Rio Tinto has announced a record US$13.5 billion in returns to shareholders.
Record Rio returns for shareholders Record Rio returns for shareholders Record Rio returns for shareholders Record Rio returns for shareholders Record Rio returns for shareholders

Kristie Batten

That comprised a final dividend of $3.1 billion, or $1.80 per share, and a special dividend of $4 billion, taking the total final dividend to $3.07 per share, up 6% on last year.

Macquarie had tipped a special dividend of $2 per share, following the divestment of Rio's stake in Grasberg.

The bumper returns distracted from what was a flat but largely as-expected result.

Underlying EBITDA dropped just 2% to $18.1 billion, in line with Macquarie Bnk's forecast.

The Pilbara iron ore division accounted for $11.3 billion of the result, followed by aluminium with just under $3.1 billion.

Free cashflow was $7 billion.

Underlying earnings were 2% higher at $8.8 billion, while net earnings jumped 56% to $13.6 billion, driven primarily by gains on disposals and foreign exchange movements.

"We have once again announced record cash returns to shareholders of $13.5 billion on the back of $18 billion of underlying EBITDA and a return on capital employed of 19%,"Rio chief executive J-S Jacques said.

"These strong results reflect the efforts of the team to implement our value-over-volume strategy as we continued to strengthen the portfolio and invest in future growth.

"Our world-class portfolio and strong balance sheet will serve us well in all market conditions, and underpin our ability to continue to invest in our business and deliver superior returns to shareholders in the short, medium and long-term."

The company reported it is now in a net cash position of $255 million.

More to come...