FMG reduces dividends amid green energy powerhouse push
Fortescue Metals Group has continued to tighten its belt, reducing dividend payments amid a shift towards clean energy.
The mining group, headed by outspoken philanthropist Andrew Forrest, reduced interim dividends for the half to 75c from 85c the previous corresponding period.
The move comes as the company on Wednesday reported profits fell 15 per cent to $US2.36 billion ($A3.4 billion) in line with consensus expectations.
Despite record metals shipments, high inflation and increased spending in green energy projects have impacted Fortescue’s bottom line.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation fell nine per cent to $US4.4b for the half.
Investment in its Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) subsidiary, devoted to producing zero-carbon green hydrogen, grew 39 per cent to $US283m, $US68m of which was spent on decarbonising the group’s iron ore operations.
But Dr Forrest shows no sign of backing down from his decarbonisation mission.
“Building on our foundations as one of the world’s largest producers of iron ore, Fortescue is transitioning into a global green energy, metals and products company,” he said, reaffirming his company’s commitment to zero emissions across iron ore operations by 2030.
“We aim to demonstrate that heavy industry can decarbonise profitably.”
FFI is overseeing the construction of the world’s largest electrolyser manufacturing facility in Gladstone, Queensland.
It’s promised to produce more than 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year, more than doubling global production.
The fall in dividends exceeds the drop in Fortescue’s earnings, bringing the company’s payout ratio down to 65 per cent from 70 per cent the previous year.
Morgans senior analyst Adrian Prendergast says Fortescue experienced a strong quarter compared to consensus expectations, coming in ahead of market estimates on shipments, pricing, and cost performance.
But despite a solid floor in iron ore prices increasing market confidence, he fears subdued Chinese steel demand means China’s re-opening has already been priced into share prices.
The company’s growing expenditure on green energy projects in the next few years will decrease cash flow availability and increase sensitivity to market volatility, he says.
Fortescue shares were down 1.6 per cent in morning trading to $21.82.