Near-record payout for BHP shareholders after ‘strong’ six months

Miner BHP is to pay out its second highest ever dividend to shareholders after reporting soaring profits.

Chief executive Mike Henry said the business “delivered a strong set of half-year results” as revenue grew by more than 7%, and after-tax profit shot up by nearly 17%.

“BHP is in good shape. We have passionate and committed people hungry to perform. We have brought together high-quality assets in a simple portfolio that allows us to create value at scale,” he said.

Profit before tax rose almost 15% to 7.8 billion US dollars (£60 billion) in the half-year.

However, after tax – a measure more closely followed by analysts – profit from continuing operations hit 5.2 billion dollars (£4 billion) on revenue of 22.3 billion dollars (£17 billion).

The board said it would pay an interim dividend of 0.65 US dollars (50p) per share.

Mr Henry said he wants BHP “to be unquestionably the industry’s best operator”, putting safety, cost, productivity and reliability in the spotlight.

But he also highlighted that the business faces challenges from global conditions.

He said: “Despite near-term uncertainty – due to the coronavirus outbreak, trade policy and geopolitics – we remain convinced about the positive underlying fundamentals of our commodities.

“We see enormous potential to reliably deliver exceptional financial and operational performance, and to grow value and returns.”

As fellow London-listed rival Glencore said on Tuesday that it was ahead of schedule for its emissions-reduction plan, BHP promised action on climate change.

In October last year, it announced deals to use renewable power at two of its sites, saving carbon from 2022.

It has also promised to set targets for Scope 3 emissions – those resulting from customers using its products.

Investors piled pressure on the mining group to pull out of industry lobbying groups last year, warning that its reputation would be damaged if it did not.

Aberdeen Standard Investments and the Church of England Pension Fund were among those calling for change.