Updated from 12:03 p.m. EDTFreeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX) continued to seesaw in late afternoon trading Tuesday, as the benefits of its blockbuster second-quarter earnings battled weakness in the underlying metals market. After trading as high as $53.22 early in the session, Freeport-McMoRan shares dipped into negative territory in line with gold futures, but then rallied late in the day and were recently up 0.4% at $51.78. Freeport reported earnings of $1.74 a share for the second quarter vs. 91 cents in the same period a year ago on high prices of copper and gold. Revenue was $1.4 billion vs. $900 million a year before. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of $1.45 a share and revenue of $1.3 billion. The company says it sold copper at an average price of $3.33 a pound for the quarter vs. $1.53 a year before. The average gold price realized was $613.77 an ounce, compared to $428.23 a year earlier. Results were, however, negatively affected by weather-related delays in shipping as well as the presence of an ore body with unusually high clay content, says Kathleen Quirk, company CFO. For the remaining half year, the company expects to process higher-quality ore, thus increasing throughput of metal and reducing overall unit costs and increasing operating cash flow. "Our company has no need to retain significant cash balances," says Freeport president Richard Adkerson, noting the firm's low net debt of less than $1 billion and history of returning excess cash to shareholders via stock buybacks or higher dividends. In metals, copper lost 2.85 cents to close at $3.60 a pound after rallying earlier in the day on continued concerns over supply, with London Metal Exchange Stocks again reportedly lower at 93,850 metric tons, down 250 tons, and the possibility of industrial action at Chile's massive Escondida copper mine never far from market observers' thoughts.