BHP Billiton Raises Dividend by 4%

LONDON -- The shares of BHP Billiton  (LSE: BLT  ) (NYSE: BBL  ) dropped 46 pence, or 2%, to 2,190 pence during early London trade this morning despite the miner lifting its half-year dividend by 4%.

BHP today declared an interim payout of $0.57 per share compared to $0.55 per last year.

The dividend lift accompanied full-year results that showed revenue falling $5 billion to $32 billion and underlying operating profits sliding $6 billion to $10 billion. BHP blamed the lack of progress on "substantially lower commodity prices and resilient produce currencies."

BHP also announced this morning the forthcoming retirement of chief executive Marius Kloppers, who will be replaced by 30-year BHP veteran Andrew Mackenzie.

Kloppers said: "I've been very fortunate to lead one of the world's great resource companies. Deciding the right time to retire was never going to be easy. ... However after almost twenty years with BHP Billiton, twelve as a senior executive and nearly six as CEO, I believe now is the right time to pass the leadership baton."

Mackenzie said: "It is a privilege to be asked to lead one of Australia's great companies and the world's leading diversified natural resources company."

Looking ahead, BHP reckoned the global economy would strengthen during the next twelve months and provide support for commodity demand and pricing. The firm also described its longer-term outlook as "robust."

Based on today's figures, BHP's shares trade on a trailing P/E of 14 and offer a yield of 3.3%.

Of course, whether those ratings, today's results, the management change and the general outlook for miners and commodities all combine to make BHP a buy remains your decision.

However, if you already own BHP shares and are looking to diversify, this free special reportcovers a tip-top growth opportunity with operations far removed from the mining sector.

Indeed, the blue chip in question has lifted its earnings per share by 44% since 2009, owns subsidiaries that might carry considerable hidden value -- and has just been declared "The Motley Fool's Top Growth Stock For 2013."

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