Glencore Xstrata's Profits Hit By Massive Write-Off

Michael Teague  |

This past May, Swiss companies Glencore and Xstrata merged operations to become the largest commodities trading/mining company in the world, Glencore Xstrata Plc ($GLNCY).

But weaker commodity prices over the last quarter have taken a large bite out of the company’s profits, as was on display on Tuesday when Glencore released its first-half earnings. Excluding exceptional items, the company saw profits fall to $2.04 billion, from the prior year period during which net income was $3.36 billion. Not excluding one-time items, however, the company reported a staggering loss of $8.47 billion, compared to the prior-year’s profit of $2.3 billion.

Glencore’s acquisition of Xstrata added metals and minerals such as coal, zinc, nickel, and copper to what was already the world’s largest commodity trading company, and came with a price tag of $29 billion. The company cited the “broader negative mining industry environment” as well as weaker commodity prices for the disastrous numbers.

Indeed, a number of the world’s biggest mining concerns such as Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) and BHP Billiton (BHP) have had to sell-off costly and/or underperforming assets in order to save cash. But Glencore’s write-offs are huge; while analysts had expected the company to write-down the value of recently acquired Xstrata assets by $7 billion, when all was said and done the figure ended up at $7.66 billion.

That said, the company still had greatly improved output numbers to point to as an offset for the massive write-offs, in particular a 20 percent increase in copper production through various mines in Africa and South America.

Shares were down over 2.5 percent to $9.31 heading towards the closing bell.

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