NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of iron ore miner Cliffs Natural Resources  (CLF) - Get Cleveland-Cliffs Inc Report fell 3.78% to $6.37 in afternoon trading as iron ore prices touched a fresh six-year low.

Prices of the steel making ingredient closed at $62.70 a ton on Wednesday, its lowest price in six years. A Reuters poll of analysts published Wednesday predicted a median iron ore price of $68 a ton in 2015. This would be far below the 2014 average of $97 a ton, and also lower than the previous record low year average of $86 in 2009.

Vale (VALE) - Get Vale S.A. Sponsored ADR Report and other major iron ore producers pledged late last year not to trim production despite the global oversupply that has driven down iron ore prices.

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Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC (CLF) a SELL. This is driven by several weaknesses, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, generally high debt management risk, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Metals & Mining industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 5116.7% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $117.20 million to -$5,879.60 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 108.31 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.39, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Metals & Mining industry and the overall market, CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $227.90 million or 23.26% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow of 23.26%, CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC is in line with the industry average cash flow growth rate of -29.15%.
  • Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 59.47%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 6021.53% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: CLF Ratings Report

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