By Andrew Flynn –
TORONTO (CP) – Noranda Inc., a global miner of copper and nickel – and a major takeover target – says its fourth-quarter profit almost tripled to $158 million US amid rising world demand led by China.
Noranda also said Friday a deal for the sale of the company could be announced “within the next few months,” even though talks between China Minmetals broke off in December.
Noranda claimed then that the Chinese government-owned company was offering only “a small premium” for the Toronto-based company.
“While a transaction with China Minmetals is still possible, the special committee of the board of directors recognizes the very positive performance of Noranda since the start of this process, and therefore continues to assess other alternative transactions,” CEO Derek Pannell said Friday.
“We recognize that the process has taken longer than originally contemplated and expect that a transaction will be completed, or the process terminated, within the coming months.”
Noranda (TSX:NRD), which reports in U.S. dollars, said its net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2004, amounted to 50 cents a share diluted and compared with $55 million US or 18 cents per share a year earlier.
That was below the analyst consensus forecast of 55 cents per share, according to Thomson One Analytics.
Noranda shares dropped 44 cents, just shy of two per cent, in early trading on the Toronto stock market.
Quarterly revenue jumped to $1.9 billion US from $1.3 billion.
For the full year, earnings soared to $551 million US or $1.75 a diluted share from $23 million or nil per share in 2003. And annual revenue jumped to about $7 billion from $4.7 billion.
The consensus forecast was $1.83 per share.
Pannell did not say Friday what other companies may have expressed interest in buying Noranda. But the company’s results “in our minds. . . certainly haven’t hindered Noranda’s valuation.”
“The markets for all our main metals are strong or improving,” Pannell said.
“Nickel and copper prices are at historically high levels and we see no short-term change. Supply remains constrained and demand seems to be healthy.”
Canadian conglomerate Brascan Inc. (TSX:BNN.LV.A) owns 41 per cent of Noranda, but has said it wants to sell its Noranda stake.
Source: Canadian Press via CBC News
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