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Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold's

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fourth-quarter earnings more than doubled thanks to higher volume and prices.

Net of special items, the mining company earned $458.3 million, or $2.17 a share, in the last quarter of 2005 compared to the corresponding quarter's $174.6 million or 91 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were estimating earnings of $1.78 a share. The company earned $463.2 million on the bottom line in the latest quarter, up 118% from a year earlier.

Revenue rose by 61% to $1.48 billion in the quarter ended December 2005, compared to $924.7 million in the corresponding quarter.

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Freeport-McMoRan saw an 11% rise to 473500 pounds in copper production for the last quarter of 2005. Average realizations also improved markedly from $1.43 per pound to $2.02 per pound, a jump of 41% over the corresponding quarter. Gold production increased by 78% to 1.16 million ounces over the corresponding quarter of fiscal 2004. Average price realizations jumped by 14.2% to $ 494.07 per ounce, compared to corresponding quarter.

"Exceptional operating performance and favorable copper and gold markets enabled us to achieve record financial results in 2005", James R. Moffett, chairman and CEO said.

Freeport-McMoRan's net income for the full year 2005 rose to $934.6 million, or $4.67 a share from $156.8 million, or 85 cents a share in 2004. Operating cash flow for the full year stood at $1.55 billion. The company has estimated operating cash flows approximating $1.1 billion in 2006.

Freeport-McMoRan's shares are trading at a 52 week high $61.80, up by $1.07 Tuesday.

This story was created through a joint venture between and IRIS.