Surging Oil and Gas Production Fuels Earnings Beat for Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX  ) reported first-quarter results before the market opened this morning. The copper, gold and energy producer delivered revenue of $4.98 billion and earnings of $510 million or $0.49 per share. While this was less than the $648 million, or $0.68 per share, the company earned in the first quarter of last year, earnings did beat analysts' estimates by $0.08 per share.

Freeport-McMoRan sold 871 million pounds of copper, 187,000 ounces of gold, 27 million pounds of molybdenum and 16.1 million barrels of oil equivalent, or BOE, on the quarter. However, copper and gold sales were below last year's first quarter when the company sold 954 million pounds of copper and 214,000 ounces of gold, respectively. In addition to that, realized prices for both of those metals were lower year-over-year. Average realized prices for Q1 were $3.14 per pound for copper (compared with $3.51 in the year-ago quarter) and $1,300 per ounce for gold (compared with $1,606 in the year-ago quarter), according to the company. 

The addition of the company's energy business, which it acquired last year, really helped to offset the year-over-year declines in copper and gold volume and realized prices. The energy business continues to outperform expectations as production was 16.1 million BOE, which was much higher than guidance of 15.3 million BOE. Higher production in the Eagle Ford Shale along with continued strong performance in the Gulf of Mexico and stable production in California, when combined with lower costs, enabled Freeport-McMoRan's energy business to outperform expectations. 

Freaport-McMoRan's product diversity enabled it to overcome many obstacles in the quarter, including issues with copper exports in Indonesia as well as weaker copper and gold prices. The company believes its portfolio will continue to generate solid cash flow this year, which will enable it to substantially reduce its debt, while also delivering value to its investors. 


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