Miner Phelps Dodge ( PD) reported a big jump in fourth-quarter earnings amid higher copper prices. The company, which is in the process of being acquired by Freeport McMoRan ( FCX), earned $1.32 billion, or $6.50 a share, in the December quarter. Excluding certain items, earnings were $4.71 a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of $4.28 a share on this basis. Phelps Dodge posted revenue of $3.24 billion, slightly short of Wall Street's target of $3.49 billion. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $121.3 million, or 60 cents a share, on revenue of $2.26 billion. The year-earlier results included a one-time charge of $204.2 million, or $1.01 a share. Phelps Dodge said results were boosted by higher copper prices, which averaged $3.19 a pound in the quarter, compared with $2.03 per pound a year earlier. The company also recorded a $156.7 million gain from mark-to-market accounting. "As a result of actions we took during the past few years, we are in excellent condition both operationally and financially," the company said. "We continue to benefit from strong prices for copper and molybdenum, each of which reflects solid market fundamentals." Shares of Phelps Dodge were trading down 52 cents to $123.75.