BHP Profit Doubles To $12.7B

SYDNEY (AP) -- BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest miner, said Wednesday its full year earnings more than doubled, as the company slashed its debt and enjoyed record demand for iron ore.

Net profit for the year to June 30 was $12.7 billion, up from $5.9 billion the year before, the Melbourne-based company said in a statement. Net debt fell to $3.3 billion, down 41 percent from last year.

Revenue for the year was $52.8 billion, up 5.2 percent from $50.2 billion a year earlier amid record sales of iron ore, metallurgical coal and petroleum.

Despite the strong result, the company said it remained "cautious" on the short-term outlook for the global economy.

"Uncertainty continues to surround the developed world as governments adjust fiscal policies following a period of significant stimulus and subsequent increase in sovereign debt levels," BHP said.

The company also warned that China, its key market, has implemented measures aimed at curbing its rapid economic growth.

The company declared a final dividend of 45 cents a share, up from 41 cents the year before.

Last week, BHP launched a hostile $38.5 billion takeover offer for Canadian fertilizer company Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. On Monday, Potash said its board voted unanimously to reject the bid.

Shares of BHP closed down 10 cents, or 0.3 percent, to AU$37.44 on the Australian stock exchange.

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