The third-quarter earnings season is nearly over. Most copper miners (XME) including First Quantum Minerals (FM) and Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) have released their third-quarter results. Diversified miners like Rio Tinto (RIO) and BHP Billiton (BHP) have only released their operating performance. They only release their half-yearly and annual financial results.
In this series, we’ll compare copper miners’ third-quarter performances and fourth-quarter outlook. Let’s start by looking at recent copper market developments.
Copper prices have been largely rangebound during the past month. Copper prices have hovered above $6,000 per metric ton. While some of the other metals like aluminum saw a selling spree in the past month and fell to their 2018 lows, copper stayed above its 2018 lows and the psychologically crucial $6,000 per metric ton level.
Chinese copper imports have been strong in 2018 except in October when the imports fell sharply. China’s clampdown on scrap imports means that the country’s copper concentrate and unwrought copper imports might stay at higher levels. Some of China’s recent economic data points, especially in the housing and automotive sectors, showed a moderation in China’s copper demand.
Next, we’ll discuss leading copper miners’ third-quarter production profiles.