And the dividend hits just keep on coming.
Moments ago, Australian mining giant BHP Billiton announced that underlying H1 profit plunged 92% from $4.9 billion to just $412 million, well below the lowest forecast and certainly below the consesus estimate of a $727 million profit. This was on revenue of $15.7 billion which also missed expectations of $16.02 bilion, generating $4.599 billion in EBITDA and $1.2 billion in Free Cash Flow, on Operating cash flow of $5.26 billion, down 45%. The company's net loss was $5.67 billion for the period ended December 31, also missing the estimate of of a $5.48 billion loss.
BHP also announced a 40% cut to CapEx, which declined to just $3.6 billion in the first half.
The big hit to earnings came from the company's massive writedown of $4.9 billion in U.S. shale, thus further proviking questions about just how underreserved US banks are to the energy and commodity sector.
BHP's net debt was $25.9 billion as of December 31, for a net gearing ratio of 2.7%
But the biggest surprise was BHP's announcement that for the first time since 1988 it slashed its dividend by a whopping 75% from $0.62 to $0.16. The cut marked an end to BHP's commitment to its progressive payout policy, which held that it would pay a steady or higher dividend at each half-year result.
We continue to expect virtually all energy-facing companies to follow in BHP's footsteps and limit cash outflow to an absolute minimum, meaning many more dividend and GDP-reducing CapEx cuts are imminent.