There aren't a lot of big companies to make investment doubles in just the past six months. But Freeport-McMoRan
The company, which produces copper, gold, and molybdenum from a variety of mines in places like Arizona, Indonesia, South America, and Africa, earned $775 million in the September-ending quarter. That, for those of you with a mathematical bent, is more than double the $351 earned in the same quarter of 2006. With a higher number of shares out, the company's per-share number went from $1.87 to $1.67 in the same period. Revenue for the quarter more than tripled year over year to $5.07 billion, from $1.64 billion in the same quarter of 2006.
Just about a year ago, then-New Orleans-based Freeport-McMoRan put forth an offer for Phelps Dodge, a Phoenix-headquartered company about twice Freeport's size. The initial reaction from those in the industry was that the minnow's effort to swallow the whale could be thwarted by such bigger mining companies as Melbourne's giant BHP Billiton
But when no competing offer sallied forth, Freeport consummated its acquisition in March. The result is a company that's a significant beneficiary of the world's escalating demand for copper and molybdenum.
In fact, the ongoing demand (and rising price) for copper is the key to Freeport-McMoRan's future. During the past decade, the base metal generally traded below $1.00 per pound. Today it's worth in the mid-$3.00s, as demand grows in developing nations like China and India. Should that demand continue, Freeport will be a clear beneficiary.
Beyond that, molybdenum, which is used in stainless steel and other high-level steel applications, has seen its price run even more impressively in the past few years. And with Freeport-McMoRan as one of the world's major "moly" producers, the company also stands to profit from that strong demand.
So, my Foolish friends, I don't think I'd chase Freeport to higher levels, but this is a very strong company that could be attractive on any sort of a pullback.
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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 Motley Fool has a strong and rust-proof, molybdenum-based disclosure policy.