Top 100 mining companies: Ugly at the top, not so ugly below – Kip Keen

It wasn’t a good year to be a big miner. Ranking the top 100 mining companies by market cap near year end and tabulating their 52-week share price performance tells the ugly tale (see below). BHP Billiton, still the world’s largest company, shed an astounding $31 billion or 27% of its market cap. The next seven names at the top were all losers. Rio Tinto and Glencore’s share prices were off by about eight percent; Vale’s dropped 41%; Anglo American’s was down 10%; Norilsk’s was down seven percent; Freeport’s shareprice slumped 37%; and Southern Copper ended close to, but not quite, the even mark.

In looking back on 2014, it’s not hard to account for the share price pain of the top miners. Last year was abysmal for iron ore, oil and coal prices – chief commodities for many of the diversifieds. Meantime, investor sentiment toward the miners and their prospects seemed to reach new lows. In the past couple years, there was a great deal of shuffling in mining management reflecting shareholder unhappiness with business plans, share price returns, thin cash flow and capital expenditure blow outs.The cratering iron ore price, especially, caught many in the market off guard. Though a decline in iron ore was bound to come, BMO mining analyst Tony Robson notes in an email, “most of us were thinking late 2014 or 2015, not early/mid 2014.” And he, as others, expected a “steady decline not a savage collapse”. An unprecedented gulf between supply (growing) and demand (slowing) emerged in 2014, one that is by many accounts here to stay…..

To read part 1 of Kip’s analysis click on Top-100-mining-companies-ugly-top-pt-1

And Part 2:

If 2014 was a dismal year for many in the mining sector – especially in bulk commodities – there were bright spots and, in many cases, strong performances.

Those more heavily weighted to base metals had pretty strong showings. While the price of copper didn’t do much in 2014, it held steady at least, while zinc and lead prices climbed somewhat. This was evident in share prices. Lundin (65) was up 18%. Hudbay (86) gained 13%. And Hindustan Zinc (17) climbed 30%.

Meantime, the integrated aluminium producers/miners rebounded in 2014 after some hurtful years of plummeting aluminium prices. Notably, Alcoa (10) was up 47% and Rusal (19) 135% in the past year.

And even gold companies didn’t have that a terrible year overall. If the majors had a rough go of it (e.g. Barrick (13) down 33%) many fared quite well, posting decent rebounds and ending the year higher than they began it……..

To read Part 2 of Kip’s article in full click on Top-100-mining-companies-not-ugly-part-2

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