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Freeport-McMoRan Profit Pummeled

Freeport's net income tumbles along with copper prices.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold's


first-quarter profit tumbled as the copper miner suffered with the fall in commodities demand.

Phoenix-based Freeport earned $43 million, or 11 cents per share, down from $1.1 billion, or $2.64 per share in 2008. Revenue dropped 54% to $2.6 billion from $5.67 billion. The price of copper fell from about $4 a pound to around $2 in the past year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting EPS of 13 cents on revenue of $2.69 billion.

"The cost performance across our operating sites and particularly in our North America operations reflects the prompt actions by our team to respond to the dramatic change in market conditions which occurred in the fourth quarter of 2008," the company said in a statement. "Our results also demonstrate the financial strength of our Grasberg operation in Indonesia where our gold revenues completely offset our production costs."

Freeport sees higher sales in this quarter: approximately 3.9 billion pounds of copper (up from 1 billion); 2.3 million ounces of gold (up from 545,000 ounces); and 50 million pounds of molybdenum (compared with 10 million in the year-ago period).