Wednesday preview: BHP Billiton to announce profit drop in half-year results

BHP Billiton is expected to announce a sharp decline in profits for the last half of 2012 on Wednesday.

BHP Billiton is expected to announce a sharp decline in profits for the last half of 2012 on Wednesday.

All eyes will be on the mining giant as it releases its half-year results.

Canaccord Genuity analysts predict a 43% fall in underlying earnings to $5.65bn, excluding exceptional one-off costs, as a result of falling iron and coal prices in the second half.

The Anglo-Australian group may also reorganise impairment charges against its Australian aluminium and nickel business, which have been hit by the strong domestic currency and weak prices.

However, Canaccord said it does not expect impairments large enough to swing the results to a loss.

The broker predicted dividend growth and estimated an underlying earnings before interest and taxes of $9.65bn, down from $15.68bn reported for the same period a year earlier.

Chief Executive Marius Kloppers is likely to point out cost-cutting and tighter spending strategies, Canaccord added.

"We expect management to highlight cost improvements and turnaround plans in the aluminium, manganese, metallurgical coal and nickel operations given the losses expected in these units," the analyst said as it issued a 'hold' rating for stocks and target price of 2,155p.

"We will also look for status updates on the Jansen potash project and iron ore expansion plans."

Shares were up 0.92% to 2,240.00p at 15:42 Tuesday.

INTERIMS

A&J Mucklow Group, BHP Billiton, Centaur Media, Galliford Try, Netcall

INTERIM EX-DIVIDEND DATE

Mid Wynd International Inv Trust, Mountview Estate, PZ Cussons, Rank Group

QUARTERLY EX-DIVIDEND DATE

Barclays, Blackrock North American Income Trust , Carnival, GlaxoSmithKline, M Winkworth

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

FOMC Interest Rate Minutes (US) (19:00)

Housing Starts (US) (13:30)

Building Permits (US) (13:30)

MBA Mortgage Applications (US) (12:00)

Producer Price Index (US) (13:30)

Consumer Confidence Indicator (EU) (10:00)

Consumer Price Index (GER) (07:00)

Producer Price Index (GER) (07:00)

Flash consumer confidence (E17) (15:00)

FINALS

Pinnacle Technology Group, Rathbone Brothers, Rexam, RSA Insurance Group, Spectris, STV Group, Travis Perkins

AGMS

MedicX Fund Ltd.

UK ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

BoE Interest Rate Minutes (09:30)

Claimant Count Rate (09:30)

Unemployment Rate (09:30)

FINAL DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE

Impax Asset Management Group

FINAL EX-DIVIDEND DATE

Brunner Inv Trust, Catlin Group Ltd., Henderson Opportunities Trust, Independent Inv Trust, Jersey Electricity 'A' Shares, Reckitt Benckiser Group, Throgmorton

RD

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