saw fourth-quarter earnings drop sharply, due in part to a big charge.
The Phoenix-based copper giant made $121 million, or $1.19 a share, down from $341 million, or $3.40 a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included $200 million in special charges. Before the charges, the company made $3.70 a share on a continuing operations basis, well short of the $3.97 Thomson First Call estimate. Sales rose to $2.26 billion from $1.82 billion a year earlier.
Cash flow from operating activities fell to $470.6 million from $596.2 million a year ago. In the latest quarter, the company contributed $200 million to trusts for postretirement medical and life insurance benefit obligations.
"Phelps Dodge continued its strong performance, and for 2005 posted record annual net income of more than $1.5 billion," said CEO J. Steven Whisler. "While we had a number of unusual special items which reduced our fourth quarter book earnings, our quarterly cash flow from operating activities, including the $200 million used to fund trusts designed to reduce long-term liabilities, remained strong at more than $670 million. We continue to benefit from current prices both of copper and molybdenum, each of which reflects solid market fundamentals and with positive market outlooks.
"We made substantial progress during the year on each of our four priorities for cash -- investing appropriately in our existing operations, improving the quality of our asset base, strengthening our balance sheet to improve our financial flexibility and rewarding our shareholders. We will continue to maintain financial discipline by focusing on these priorities with the objective of increasing long-term shareholder value."