As we approach the halfway point for 2012, now's a good time to look back at what's happening with the stocks that interest you. By making sure you know the important things that a company accomplished -- as well as the setbacks it experienced -- you can make a better decision about whether it's a smart investment for your portfolio.
Today, let's take a look at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX ) . As a major mining company, Freeport has benefited from the huge demand for copper in infrastructure development in China and elsewhere, as well as from spiking gold prices. But so far this year, those trends have reversed and sent many materials stocks tumbling. Let's take a quick look at how the stock is doing so far this year.
Stats on Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
|2012 YTD Return
|Revenue, Most Recent Quarter
|Year-Over-Year Revenue Growth, Most Recent Quarter
|Net Income, Most Recent Quarter
|Year-Over-Year Net Income Growth, Most Recent Quarter
|CAPS Rating (out of 5)
Source: S&P Capital IQ.
Why has Freeport dug itself into a hole?
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and for Freeport, the long spell of Chinese economic growth is taking at least a well-deserved pause. That has had a huge impact on Freeport's results lately, as the company sold 100 million fewer pounds of copper and 190,000 fewer ounces of gold in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the year-ago quarter.
Interestingly, the slowdown isn't industrywide, as Southern Copper (NYSE: SCCO ) managed to grow year-over-year revenue and net profit in its most recent quarter. Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO ) , on the other hand, has seen a similar price decline despite its majority stake in Ivanhoe Mines (NYSE: IVN ) and its potential $300 billion Mongolian mine project.
Long-term investors are salivating at the chance to buy Freeport shares on the cheap. As Fool Rising Star Jim Mueller recently pointed out, copper demand has risen gradually for the past century. That makes the current blip look like a buying opportunity, especially given Freeport's low-cost production at about $1 per pound of copper. With copper demand projected to exceed supply, Freeport will still have basic economics on its side.
Moreover, the company showed a vote of confidence by raising its dividend by 25% in February. The new payout of $0.3125 per share quarterly amounts to almost a 4% yield at current prices, which makes a nice kicker for a stock with growth potential.
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