UPDATE 2-Freeport beats Street, looks at sales, joint ventures
Oct 22 (Reuters) - Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc reported better-than-expected third-quarter results on Tuesday, boosted by recently acquired oil and gas operations, and the company's shares jumped more than 4.5 percent.
The beat came despite lower metals prices that weighed on earnings.
"A very big quarter for them," said Garrett Nelson, an analyst with BB&T Capital Markets. "The beat was mainly driven by the oil and gas segment, where sales, realizations and production costs all came in better than what we had estimated."
But Nelson said some investors may have hoped that Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport would announce a deal to sell assets, relieving some concerns about its debt.
Acquiring Plains Exploration & Production Co and McMoRan Exploration Co earlier this year for $9 billion 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.
In Tuesday's release, Freeport 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.
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 in the quarter 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.
Freeport shares were up $1.58 to $36.62 on the New York Stock Exchange in morning trading.