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Ferrexpo increases dividends and boasts “successful” 2018

“We continued to benefit from the strong global demand for our high-grade iron ore pellets, which helped deliver strong cash flow despite a rise in costs"
iron pellets
Profit reduced by 15% to US$335mln

Iron pellet producer Ferrexpo PLC (LON:FXPO) highlighted a 40% rise in shareholder dividends, up to a ‘record’ 23.1 US cents per share, as it released full-year results for 2018.

At the same time, it also noted an increase in investment and a continuation of debt reduction.

"I am pleased to report a successful year for Ferrexpo,” said chairman Steve Lucas.

READ: Ferrexpo awaits progress as investigation into charity donations continues

“We continued to benefit from the strong global demand for our high-grade iron ore pellets, which helped deliver strong cash flow despite a rise in costs. This enabled us to increase investment, reduce debt further and pay a record dividend."

The chairman added: “This year we plan to increase investment once more to be able to hit our medium-term production target of 12 million tonnes per annum by 2021 and lay the foundations for our longer-term intention to move to annual output of 20 million tonnes per annum."

Total pellet production rose by 1.6% to 10.6mln tonnes, while sales amounted to 10.2mln tonnes.

Revenue increased by 6.4% to US$1.27bn, and the amount paid out against quality (iron ore grade) fines reduced by 2.5% to US$69.5mln.

Profit reduced by 15% to US$335mln as the cash cost of production increased by 34% to US$43.3mln and margins reduced.

The company invested US$135mln of capital, up 31% from US$103mln in 2017, while net debt reduced by 14% to US$339mln from US$394mln in the preceding year.

It will pay a total of 23.1 US cents dividend per share for 2018, up from 16.5 US cents in the previous year.

Investigation into donations

Release of Ferrexpo’s financial results was previously delayed amid independent investigations into charity donations made by the company.

In a brief statement earlier this month, the iron group said the investigation was making progress.

It noted, at that time, that the Independent Review Committee (IRC) was looking into donations made by Ferrexpo to the Blooming Land Charity and said it can report that it has made progress in receiving explanations regarding the differences contained on the bank statements.

Ferrexpo added that the IRC also received third-party evidence - including governmental confirmations - to explain some of the possible discrepancies in the application of funds by Blooming Land as per its announcement of 19 March 2019.

Today, it told investors that the IRC has concluded that Blooming Land is not a ‘related party’ to its chief executive (who is also Ferrexpo’s largest shareholder) or the company’s executive management, as defined under accountancy standards or stock exchange listing rules.

It added though that the IRC cannot yet conclude as to the ultimate use of the funds by the charity, however, there are indications some could have been misappropriated.

Additionally, Ferrexpo said: “The board notes that the auditors have been unable to conclude as to whether the chief executive officer does or does not have significant influence or control over Blooming Land.

“The board has formed a unanimous view, based on a lack of clear evidence to the contrary and unambiguous representations given to the board by the CEO over many years, that the CEO does not have significant influence or control over Blooming Land.”

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