BHP Group Ltd. reported a 32% fall in first-half net profit and pared its interim dividend from a record-high level, mostly because of weaker prices for some of the commodities it sells, including steel ingredient iron ore and industrial metal copper. The world’s largest miner by market value
said it made a net profit of $6.46 billion in the six months through December. It made a profit of $9.44 billion in the same period a year earlier, when strong commodity prices boosted its bottom line.
BHP said its underlying attributable profit–a closely watched measure that strips out exceptional items to illustrate the underlying performance of the business–totaled $6.60 billion, down 32% on the year-prior period. The market expected an underlying profit of roughly $6.82 billion, according to 15 analyst forecasts compiled by Vuma Financial. “Predominantly, it’s a price equation,” Chief Executive Mike Henry told reporters on a call. Directors declared an interim dividend of $0.90 a share, compared to a record midyear payout of $1.50 a share a year ago. The market had anticipated a dividend around $0.88 a share, according to the Vuma consensus estimates. “It’s still a pretty big number, fifth highest ever for us,” Mr. Henry said. He said BHP and Mitsubishi Corp.,
a joint-venture partner, have started looking for a buyer for their Daunia and Blackwater coal mines. The joint venture is the world’s largest exporter of steelmaking coal, from mining operations in Australia’s Queensland state. Those two mines would struggle to compete for future investment within BHP, which has previously said it wants to focus on only the highest quality steelmaking coal, said Mr. Hen …