As copper prices have fallen over the last month, so has Freeport McMoRan's (NYSE:FCX) stock price -- by over 20% since Halloween. This makes sense, since Freeport is a mining company that gets more than three-quarters of its revenue from copper. The price of copper has been falling mainly because of the faltering U.S. housing market, which uses about 400 pounds of copper in each new house.  But what is really afoot here on a long-term basis?     

First of all, last year, over 20% of the world's demand for copper came from China, and that appetite remains unaffected by subprime silliness, Fed machinations, and other U.S. economic concerns. If U.S. demand has slipped in the face of bad news about housing, it's also obvious that U.S. copper usage won't remain soft forever. I don't invest for three- or six-month increments, and neither should you.

If you look at Freeport's metrics, you may agree there's a lot to like there. For instance, there's the forward P/E under 8.5 times, along with an improved balance sheet (the company recently sold its wire and cable business to pay down debt). And the company will start you off with a 1.4% dividend yield.

Finally, the metals and mining group has been cat-in-a-sandbox busy with acquisitions of late. Earlier this year, Freeport McMoRan bought Phelps Dodge, a copper producer twice the buyer's size, and Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP) nudged aside Alcoa (NYSE:AA) to acquire Canada's Alcan. And currently, Australia's giant BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) is itself circling Rio Tinto. So it's hardly beyond the realm of possibility that Freeport could be involved in yet another big combination.

I think my Foolish friends will agree there remains a lot to like about Freeport. From my perspective, I'm inclined to file it under "terrific company, new opportunity."

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Fool has a thoroughly mined disclosure policy.