Glencore beats earnings forecast on strong trading

LONDON (Reuters) - Glencore Xstrata posted forecast-beating core profit in the first set of full annual results since the commodities group was formed, helped by a strong performance from its trading arm offsetting a decline at its mining division.

The diversified trader and miner said its annual adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) totalled $13.1 billion, above a company-provided analyst consensus of $12.3 billion.

Core profit from the trading arm of the company rose 17 percent, though the energy sector lagged while earnings from the mining division declined by 4 percent because of a fall in commodity prices.

"Our marketing division once again delivered a strong overall performance, while the modest year-on-year decline in our industrial asset performance inevitably reflected the weaker commodity price environment in 2013," Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg said.

The company also said it is in talks with China's Minmetals for the sale of its Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, which sources have said could fetch about $5 billion.

Mimetals has been selected as the preferred bidder, beating competition from parties including a Western consortium that includes Teck Resources , Newmont Mining Corp and private equity firm Blackstone .

Glencore also said it could covert a minimum of $900 million of an outstanding loan to Russneft into an equity stake in the Russian oil company.

The Swiss-based trader, which completed its record-breaking acquisition of miner Xstrata in May, said it had identified cost and efficiency savings of more than $2.4 billion, against guidance of $2 billion given late last year. The full benefit of the savings will be realised this year, it said.

The annual dividend of $0.165 was up 5 percent from a year earlier and ahead of analysts' forecast of $0.152, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares in Glencore were up 2.3 percent by 0852 GMT, outperforming a 0.8 percent rise for the mining sector

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(Reporting by Silvia Antonioli; Editing by Stephen Eisenhammer and David Goodman)
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