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Freeport-McMoRan Shifts Into Overdrive

Stocks in this article: FCX PXP MMR BHP RIO

Freeport will lever up its balance sheet and walk away from these acquisitions with roughly $20 billion in debt (from approximately $3.5 billion pre-deal). And, interestingly, the deals are somewhat incestuous as Freeport and Freeport management had various stakes in its target companies since these companies had been a part of Freeport McMoRan back in the mid '90s.

Investors have voiced concerns over the "self-dealing" nature of these deals and while we think it's unlikely to be the true motivation for the deal, Freeport's negative stock reaction has likely evened out management's payday due to their Freeport McMoRan stock holdings decline in value.

Also, management did not need to seek investor approval for these seismic shift deals due to the intentional structure of the deals, angering the investor base. We believe the company saw a chance to diversify both its commodity and geographic exposures during a period where acquiring debt is cheap and natural gas related assets are out of favor. We believe management is looking forward and we are too.

Of the to-be-acquired oil and gas assets, approximately 85% of the revenue produced will be from oil resources. Freeport will have oil production in California, in the Eagle Ford play in Texas, shallow water and deep water plays in the Gulf of Mexico and natural gas plays in Haynesville, La. and the Rocky Mountains.

The company expects to close the deals sometime in the second quarter of 2013. Freeport estimates that the company will see approximately 74% of its EBITDA from mining in 2013 -- with the balance being oil and gas exploration and production -- two-thirds of its EBITDA generated by its mining operations and one-third by its oil and gas business by 2016.

Meanwhile the EBITDA on a geographic basis should be 48% from North America (vs. 29% pre-deal), 23% from Indonesia (31%), 21 % South America (29%) and 8% Africa (11%).

Make no mistake, Freeport is a cash-flow machine, and while near-term cash flows will be used to pay down debt, management has stated the company's $1.25 per share dividend will remain in place, offering investors a 3.7% yield as the company proves its vision.

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