UPDATE 1-Freeport beats Street; looking at sales, joint ventures
Oct 22 (Reuters) - Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc reported a decline in third-quarter profit on Tuesday as lower metal prices weighed on results, but earnings topped expectations and the company's shares rose in premarket trading.
Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport, which moved into the energy market with a pair of deals earlier this year, said it was looking to cut leverage by selling assets, forming joint ventures or changing its capital spending plans.
The company said in July that it had started a sale process for some of its newly acquired oil and gas projects in the Gulf of Mexico, and noted that other assets could "provide many alternatives" to improve its financial position.
Acquiring Plains Exploration & Production Co and McMoRan Exploration Co has weighed Freeport down with debt. Total debt as of Sept. 30 was $21.1 billion, down only slightly from $21.2 billion as of June 30. The company has said it aims to cut its debt load to $12 billion over the next three years.
Sales of copper, gold and molybdenum rose in the third quarter, but the prices of all three metals fell from a year earlier.
Net income slipped to $821 million, or 79 cents a share, from $824 million, or 86 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $6.17 billion from $4.42 billion, boosted in part by the oil and gas acquisitions.
Analysts had expected earnings of 62 cents a share on revenue of $5.7 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Shares rose 4.2 percent to $36.51 in premarket trading.