Updates from Rio Tinto, Old Mutual and Cobham

The FTSE 100 climbed 32 points higher to 5,841 points yesterday. The biggest climber was Evraz, up +10.32%. The biggest faller, by some margin, was Standard Chartered, down -16.43%.

The optimism - optimism premised on more Western monetary easing - continued today in Asia with the Japanese Nikkei rising 0.9%, though the Hang Seng slipped back -0.3%.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
Let's start with mining giant Rio Tinto. Despite a profits blow -34% down for the first half of the year - the company claims it will continue to commit to its $16bn spending plans. Part of the profits slump is down to rising costs and volatile prices. Net earnings came in at $5.9bn, -22% down. However the results are still better than some anticipated.

"Whilst we are mindful of short-term uncertainties," says chairman Jan du Plessis, "we remain convinced of the strength of the long-term demand outlook. We have taken a considered approach to investment, committing capital only to projects that will deliver value for shareholders under any probable macroeconomic conditions."

Next, South African insurance operator Old Mutual. Operating profit before tax climbs 12% to £791m while funds under management slips 2% to £260.7bn. But profit before tax in the six months to the end of June slipped £733m from £909m the year before. The interim dividend climbs +17% to 1.75p.

Old Mutual claims a further £603 million of debt was repaid in 2012, less than £450 million left to hit its £1.5 billion target. The company also plans to boost its fund range.

"Against a backdrop of sustained low growth," says chief exec Julian Roberts, "and falling interest rates we continue to deliver good strategic and operational progress. We are expanding in attractive African markets; introducing new products across the Group; and today are unveiling our UK Platform pricing ahead of the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review."

Finally, defence player Cobham. Underlying profits drop -4% in the first half of the year from £149m to £142m. Total revenues are down -5% from £892m to £843m. But the company claims organic revenue growth of 1.7% in the core businesses.

The company says its £281m Thrane & Thrane acquisition - its former Danish competitor - is now done.

"We remain positive on the outlook for our commercial and non US defence/security businesses which now represent 60% of revenue," says Bob Murphy, chief exec. "The outlook for the US defence/security market for the end of 2012 and 2013 is particularly uncertain due to the upcoming US elections and the lack of political consensus on US Government budgets."

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