Rio Tinto delivers underlying earnings of $4.5 billion and maintains 2015 full year dividend at 215 US cents per share

Rio_Tinto_LogoRio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said “Against a highly challenging environment, Rio Tinto delivered a strong performance in 2015 with underlying earnings of $4.5 billion. We continued to take decisive action to preserve cash through further cost reductions, lower capital expenditure and the release of working capital. This focus on cash resulted in operating cash flows of $9.4 billion.

“At the same time, we have significantly strengthened our balance sheet and finished 2015 with net debt of $13.8 billion, which is $700 million better than the $14.5 billion pro-forma position at the end of 2014.

“The continued deterioration in the macro environment has generated widespread market uncertainty. We are embarking on a new round of proactive measures to cut our operating costs by a further $1 billion in 2016 followed by an additional goal of $1 billion in 2017. We are also reducing our capital expenditure to $4 billion in 2016 and $5 billion in 2017, an overall reduction of $3 billion compared with our previous guidance.

“These significant actions provide us with the confidence that we remain robustly positioned to maintain both balance sheet strength and deliver shareholder returns through the cycle.”

Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis said “The board has announced today a final dividend of 107.5 US cents per share, bringing the 2015 full year dividend to 215 US cents per share, in line with 2014.

“Over the past five years we have returned more than $25 billion to our shareholders, underlining our commitment to shareholder returns. However, with the continuing uncertain market outlook, the board believes that maintaining the current progressive dividend policy would constrain the business and act against shareholders’ long-term interests. We are therefore replacing the progressive dividend policy with a more flexible approach that will allow the distribution of returns to reflect better the company’s position and outlook. For 2016, we intend that the full year dividend will not be less than 110 US cents per share.”

Year to 31 December




Underlying earnings1 (US$ millions)




Net (loss) / earnings1 (US$ millions)




Net cash generated from operating activities (US$ millions)




Capital expenditure2 (US$ millions)




Underlying earnings per share (US cents)




Basic (loss) / earnings per share (US cents)




Ordinary dividends per share (US cents)



At 31 December




Net debt3 (US$ millions)




Gearing ratio4




The financial results are prepared in accordance with IFRS and are unaudited. To allow production numbers to be compared on a like-for-like basis, production from asset divestments completed in 2014 have been excluded from Rio Tinto share of production data but assets sold in 2015 remain in the comparative.
1Underlying earnings is a key financial performance indicator which management uses internally to assess performance. It is presented here to provide greater understanding of the underlying business performance of the Group’s operations. Net and underlying (loss) / earnings relate to (loss) / profit attributable to the owners of Rio Tinto. Underlying earnings is defined and reconciled to net (loss) / earnings on page 44.
2Capital expenditure is presented gross, before taking into account any disposals of property, plant and equipment.
3Net debt is defined and reconciled to the balance sheet on page 38.
4Gearing ratio is defined as net debt divided by the sum of net debt and total equity at each period end.