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Rio Tinto profits triple

(Sharecast) Miner Rio Tinto had plenty to please shareholders today, with record full-year profits, a $5bn (£3.1bn) share buyback and 20 percent increase in the dividend.

The Anglo-Australian group made a net profit of $14.3bn in 2010, up from $4.9bn the year before, as prices improved for almost all Rio’s major commodities. Price hikes added $9.5bn to underlying earnings.

A $5bn share buy-back programme is planned to complete by the end of 2012, but still leaves the company “with the flexibility to take advantage of future growth opportunities as and when they arise”, chairman Jan du Plessis said.

A final dividend of 63c takes the total payout for 2010 to 108c per share, a 20 percent increase on the 2008 figure. There was no interim payout in 2009 because of the $15.2bn rights issue.

“Rio Tinto is reinvigorated, running strongly and benefiting from favourable markets,” chief executive Tom Albanese said.

“GDP growth in emerging markets and supply constraints mean the general market and pricing outlook for commodities remain positive, albeit with elevated risk.”

But the timing and speed at which post-global financial crisis stimulus packages are removed could cause volatility and substantial swings in commodity prices.

“We are well placed to cope with the risks of both short-term volatility and long-term demand growth,” Albanese said.

Financial Director interviewed Rio Tinto’s CFO Guy Elliott in March 2010. Read the interview in full here

 

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