What's going on?
BHP, the world’s second-biggest miner, reported annual results on Tuesday – and its shares descended by 2%.
What does this mean?
The Anglo-Australian company grew its underlying profit (i.e. the money the company made from its day-to-day activities, not including any one-off income or costs) by a third, but it was down the shaft compared to expectations. The miner produces commodities iron ore, copper and coal – all of which have experienced shiny rises in value over the last year (after a price crash in 2015). This contributed to BHP’s profit growth (and was likely factored into expectations).
However, the amount of cash BHP generated swelled to levels last seen seven years ago. The company used a chunk of it to pay out a record dividend to its investors (it’s likely trying to keep them sweet as miners struggle to attract environmentally-conscious investors) and said there’ll be more cash to come when it finalizes the sale of its US shale business to BP.
Why should I care?
For markets: Not so slick after all.
Part of the reason for BHP’s stock falling might be the slipperiness of commodity prices. They were down, now they’re up, but they’re expected to go down again. Copper’s likely to take a hit as US-China trade tensions escalate – its value has already dropped since June, partly because China’s expected to buy less of it. BHP’s said that it’s apprehensive about the future as its costs are rising, too.
The bigger picture: CEOs take aim at the US.
BHP’s CEO reckons that the US will lose the trade war because China and the rest of the world will up their trade with each other, leaving the US out in the cold with no friends. He joins shipping giant Maersk’s CEO, who raised the possibility that the US will be the biggest casualty, saying the kerfuffle will affect Americans the most (who will make iPhones and Nikes?). Meanwhile, US businesses warn that the tariffs will force Americans to pay more for goods throughout their lives, from cradles to (morbidly) coffins.