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Big BHP profit drives record dividend

Australian mining giant BHP has rewarded shareholders with a larger-than-expected dividend after record full-year results.
Big BHP profit drives record dividend Big BHP profit drives record dividend Big BHP profit drives record dividend Big BHP profit drives record dividend Big BHP profit drives record dividend

Profit from operations was up 34% to US$34.1 billion, while underlying EBITDA was a record $40.6 billion at a record margin of 65%.

Attributable profit was $39 billion and underlying attributable profit was $23.8 billion, up 39%.

Net operating cashflow was $29.3 billion, while free cashflow was a record $24.3 billion.

The board declared a final dividend of $1.75 per share, or $8.9 billion, which included an additional 60c per share above the 50% minimum payout ratio.

Morgans analyst Adrian Prendergast forecast $1.36 per share, while consensus was $1.62.

"We had some concern that BHP might pull back its dividend payout a little given current headwinds, especially after Rio Tinto took an axe to its interim, but BHP's robust free cashflow and balance sheet were key supports," he said.

"This is still a dominant free cashflow generator in great shape and paying a well above market dividend."

Total cash dividends for the year were $3.25 per share, a 77% payout ratio.

Including the in-specie dividend from the merger of the petroleum business with Woodside, total returns for the year were $36 billion.

Net debt was just $333 million at June 30.

"2022 was a record year for the company and we did what we said we would do," BHP CEO Mike Henry said this morning.

"We enter the new financial year in great shape."

After unifying its corporate structure, exiting petroleum and selling its stakes in BMC and Cerrejon, BHP is turning its attention to future growth.

Capital expenditure will increase, from $7.5 billion this financial year to more than $8.5 billion in FY24 and $10 billion in the "medium-term".

The ramp-up of the new South Flank iron ore mine in Western Australia is ahead of schedule and BHP has revised its "medium-term" Western Australian Iron Ore guidance to more than 300 million tonnes per annum.

"What's changed there is the underlying performance of the business," Henry said.

"I mean, this is a business that is getting better year in and year out, and where this continuous improvement mindset and capability has really become entrenched.

"That's given us growing confidence that we can achieve that 300 million tonnes per year just through ongoing productivity efforts, and maybe a little bit of bottlenecking."

Guidance for FY23 is 278-290Mt at unit costs of $18-19 per tonne.

This financial year will see the company assess expansion opportunities to take iron ore production towards 330Mtpa.

BHP already has approvals to get to 330Mtpa on the supply chain side.

"Not only do we now have the regulatory approvals in place, this is a business that now three years running has been the world's lowest cost major iron ore business, safely and reliably delivering year in and year out," Henry said.

At the Jansen potash project in Canada, the production shafts are complete and BHP is working towards first production in 2026.

It will also look to accelerate stage two of the project.

"And as a reminder, we also have Jansen stage three and Jansen stage four out there, which is what I mean when I talk about this very attractive long-term pipeline of growth that we've opened up," Henry said.

BHP said it was also looking at creating more options in copper and nickel.

"So we expect to be sitting here in a few years' time with a pretty healthy cupboard of attractive growth options across BHP," Henry said.

Despite global uncertainty, BHP remains positive on China, even after weak economic data reported this week.

Henry said China's emergence from COVID-19 lockdowns would be a tailwind for global growth.

"And we are expecting a degree of stimulus in China as well," he added.

The market responded well to the positive results and outlook, with BHP clearly outperforming the rest of the ASX mining sector.

Shares in the miner were trading 4.5% higher at A$40.705 in Australian afternoon trade.