Glencore Takes $2.8 Billion Writedown on Coal, Oil; No Buybacks

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Glencore (LON:GLEN) Plc told investors it won’t buy back shares and wrote down $2.8 billion in coal, oil and copper assets as falling prices take a toll on the world’s largest commodities trader.

The company reported its lowest profit in three years and debt rose above its own targets. The result are unlikely to give investors much incentive to jump back into Glencore, a stock they’ve shunned in favor of rival miners. The company has been struggling with falling profits and multiple corruption probes.

At the same time, Glencore missed a rally in prices for iron ore -- which it doesn’t mine -- and has come under increasing scrutiny for the size of its vast coal operations.

Glencore took big writedowns on its two key Colombian coal mines, – Prodeco and Cerrejon. The mines predominantly ship to Europe where the coal market has been hit hard by cheap gas prices.

The company lowered the value of its oil business in Chad, which it’s looking to exit, and a copper business in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Glencore’s net debt of $17.6 billion came just above the target range of $10 billion to $16 billion. While the increase is partly due to new accounting standards, investors will have to wait for debt to fall before Glencore commits to new buyback.

Separately, Glencore added new details about its long-term retreat from coal. So-called Scope 3 emissions will fall by 30% in the next 15 years, predominantly as a result of depleting mines in Colombia and South Africa, the company said.

Glencore has faced the brunt of a growing investor concern about climate change. While its biggest rivals are in the process of exiting coal, Glencore has been a staunch defender of the fuel, saying it’s essential to providing affordable and reliable power in developing countries.

Financial Highlights

Adjusted Ebitda for 2019 was $11.6 billion, a small beat compared with estimatesTrading profit was $2.4 billion, in line with its long-term range