Glasenberg rallies the troops - again.
By Geoffrey Smith
December 10, 2015

Time for another pep talk from Ivan Glasenberg.

The world’s largest miner Glencore Plc (GLNCY) said Thursday it’s still generating free cash despite commodity prices falling to their lowest level in 17 years, and added it would continue to do so even if they fall further.

In an investor update, chief executive Ivan Glasenberg rebuffed assertions from skeptical analysts that the company can’t make enough money to service its debts, saying that Glencore can generate more than $2 billion a year in free cash flow at current levels and would stay “comfortably” cash-flow positive “at materially lower price levels.”

The company’s shares jumped over 10% on the latest update, restoring the share price to where it was before rival Anglo American roiled stock markets with its announcement of wholesale production cuts, disposals and dividend suspension on Tuesday. But they’re still 17% below where they were before Glasenberg’s last attempt to rally the troops a month ago, when he put a couple of copper mines and a minority stake in the group’s agricultural business up for sale.

Glencore has already raised or saved a total of $8.7 billion by suspending its dividend, issuing new capital, pledging future output and selling assets in its campaign to bring its debt level down. It went a bit further Thursday, raising its debt reduction target to $13 billion from $10 billion, and targeting net debt down of $18-19 billion. Half of that will come from cuts to the investment budget over the next two years.

Although Glencore produces and trades a wealth of commodities, its share price has moved largely in sync with the price of copper, a very rough proxy for all industrial commodities, which has shown signs of stabilizing in the last three weeks. But at $2.07 a pound, copper, has still lost over 50% from its 2011 peak, when China’s economy was till booming. Glasenberg told a conference call he expected China’s copper demand to rise between 4%-5% next year, roughly the same as this year.

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