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Freeport-McMoRan 4Q profit rises 16 percent

PHOENIX (AP) -- Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. said Tuesday that fourth-quarter profit rose 16 percent on a combination of rising sales and lower copper-production costs, and the mining company's stock rose.

Net income was $743 million, 78 cents per share, compared with $640 million, or 67 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items such as a charge for environmental costs, the company said it would have earned 74 cents per share, beating the forecast of 71 cents per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue increased 8 percent to $4.51 billion. Analysts expected $4.50 billion, on average.

Copper sales rose 18 percent, gold sales jumped 91 percent, and molybdenum sales gained 11 percent, the company said.

Cost of producing one pound of copper dipped to $1.54 from $1.57 a year earlier, reflecting lower employees costs partially offset by higher mining costs.

In December, the company announced that it will buy Plains Exploration & Production Co. and McMoRan Exploration Co. for $20 billion in total, including the assumption of debt. The deals are expected to close in the second quarter.

For the full year, Freeport-McMoRan earned $3.04 billion, or $3.19 per share, compared with $4.56 billion, or $4.78 per share, in 2011.

Looking ahead, the Phoenix company, which owns mining operations in Indonesia and the Americas, said it expects 2013 sales of approximately 4.3 billion pounds of copper, 1.4 million ounces of gold and 90 million pounds of molybdenum, including 940 million pounds of copper, 230 thousand ounces of gold and 23 million pounds of molybdenum in the first quarter.

That compares with 2012 production of 3.65 billion pounds of copper, 1 million ounces of gold and 83 million pounds of molybdenum.

The shares gained $1.81, or 5.4 percent, to $35.45 in afternoon trading.