Global mining giant BHP Billiton said it had posted a loss of $5.67 in the six months to December 2015 and warned that weak commodity prices were unlikely to turn around soon.
The huge loss due to lower prices of commodities such as iron ore and coal due to a slowing China translated into a 233 percent year-on-year collapse from a $5.35 billion profit for the same period in 2014. Revenue fell 37 percent to $15.7 billion.
“While we were prepared for lower prices across our commodities, we now believe the period of weaker prices and higher volatility will be prolonged,” it said in a statement.
The company, which has always believed in delivering high returns to shareholders, cut its dividend sharply to 16 cents per share from 62 cents per share, leaving the company with cash to potentially bankroll mergers and acquisitions in a weak market.
“The adoption of a dividend payout ratio will further support BHP Billiton’s financial strength, while providing flexibility at the bottom of the cycle and ensuring discipline at the top,” Chairman Jac Nasser said.
BHP reported a net profit of $1.9 billion for the 12 months to June 30, 2015, down from $13.8 billion a year earlier. Revenue was down 22 percent to $52 billion.