In an all-too-familiar story these days, a look back at Freeport-McMoRan's
Now, however, with copper prices having plunged over 60% since the summer, anyone who bought Freeport at the top has lost more than 80% of their investment. So what does the future portend for this biggest of all publicly held copper, molybdenum, and gold companies?
Unfortunately, Freeport, like most mining and metals companies, is in a frazzle these days. It's just announced that given the horrible market conditions, it'll lay off more than 600 mine workers in the U.S. And in addition to delaying the expansion of a couple of its big Arizona copper mines -- along with the restarting of a third mine in the state -- it'll also cut back on its Colorado molybdenum operations.
On the good-news side of the ledger, Freeport's just inked a new contract with workers at its big Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru. The workers had been threatening a strike at the mine, which last year produced nearly 275,000 tons of copper.
Of course, Freeport and copper are anything but Lone Rangers in their difficulties. Aluminum prices have also become shadows of their former selves, closing earlier this week at 86.35 cents per pound, the lowest level ever recorded in November. As a result, Alcoa
And surely you know about the big miners, BHP Billiton
My best response is that Freeport is an incredibly solid company, with sound management and long-lived, geographically diverse assets. It's also a company that, in the current market environment, I wouldn't touch with a 10- or even 20-foot pole.
Freeport is a five-star company among Motley Fool CAPS players. Does that include your thumbs-up?
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