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BHP Billiton boosts profit, paves way for buyback

Published on Feb 18, 2014 6:31 AM

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - BHP Billiton reported a 31 per cent rise in first-half profit on Tuesday and signalled it would consider a dividend hike in August, as it cuts debt towards levels that may prompt a share buyback.

After achieving annualised cost savings of US$4.9 billion (S$6.2 billion), slashing capital spending and reducing debt, the world's biggest miner showed confidence in its surging cashflow, although it did not come up with a dividend surprise like rival Rio Tinto last week.

"We will consider the trajectory of our progressive base dividend at the end of the 2014 financial year," BHP said in its results statement.

It expected to generate strong free cash flow which would help it pare net debt to around US$25 billion by June 2014, a target at which chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has said the company would be willing to consider returning capital to shareholders.

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