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What You Were Buying Last Week: Rio Tinto

By Jon Wallis - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:59PM

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Investors see an opportunity in the depressed price of mining giant Rio Tinto.

LONDON -- One of Warren Buffett's famous investing sayings is: "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful" -- or, in other words, sell when others are buying and buy when they're selling.

But we might expect Foolish investors to know that, and looking at what Fools have been buying recently might well provide us with some ideas for good investments.

So, in this series of articles, we're going to look at what customers of The Motley Fool ShareDealing Service have been buying in the past week or so, and what might have made them decide to do so.

Digging up value
Rio Tinto (RIO 0.79%) (RIO 2.16%), along with other mining companies, hasn't had a good time over the past few years. Demand for metals and minerals varies with economic cycles, so if economies get depressed -- as those of most of the world have been since the credit crunch -- the shares of mining companies tend to get depressed, too. Rio Tinto's share price stood at over £60 in May 2008, but had collapsed to under £15 a mere seven months later, as the global financial crisis unfolded. It's recovered some since then, but still lags substantially behind the level of the FTSE 100.

But the thing about cycles is that they're, well, cyclical. At some point, economies around the world will improve, and demand for raw materials that need to be dug out of the ground will rise. And when that happens, the value of shares in companies that do the digging will rise as well. Rio Tinto digs up a highly diversified range of things -- including aluminum, copper, iron ore, diamonds and uranium -- meaning it's not dependent on demand for any single commodity. Given its depressed share price relative to the FTSE 100, there's a lot of potential value to be unlocked in Rio Tinto, and that may be what put Rio Tinto in the number ten spot in the latest "Top Ten Buys" list*.

Furthermore, Rio Tinto might not even have to wait for the eventual recovery of international economies to improve its performance. A fresh management team is now in place, headed by new CEO Sam Walsh, who took over after Tom Albanese left in the wake of a forced write down £9 billion of assets. Walsh and his team aim to streamline the company, significantly slashing costs and focusing the business by disposing on non-core operations. If they get it right -- and Walsh is widely regarded as a safe pair of hands -- they'll enhance shareholder value whether or not market conditions improve.

And then there's the dividend. At today's price, Rio Tinto yields around 3.7% -- comfortably above the FTSE average -- and its forecast to rise to over 4% in 2014, which will provide a nice stream of income while waiting for a recovery in the share price.

Last week was also the final opportunity to use 2012-2013's ISA allowance, and some people may well have taken advantage of Rio Tinto's currently depressed share price and used that opportunity to shelter any future gains from the taxman. 

A high-quality income share
If you already own Rio Tinto, or are just looking for an attractive high-yield share, then this particularly high-quality income opportunity might be for you.

Indeed, the company in question boasts a 5.7% dividend yield and impressed Fool analysts so much they've named this share "The Motley Fool's Top Income Stock For 2013"!

This exclusive new report is completely free, but will available for a limited time only -- so click here to download your copy now.

* based on aggregate data from The Motley Fool ShareDealing Service.

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Stocks Mentioned

Rio Tinto plc Stock Quote
Rio Tinto plc
RIO
$65.81 (2.16%) $1.39
Rio Tinto plc Stock Quote
Rio Tinto plc
RIO
$5,362.00 (0.79%) $42.00

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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