UPDATE 2-Miner Antofagasta posts bumper dividend but profit falls

martes 18 de marzo de 2014 09:42 GYT

* EBITDA down 30 percent

* Payout ratio rises from 70 pct to 142 pct

* Worries over China credit weigh on copper outlook

* Antucoya project on budget, on time; now 70 pct complete (Adds CEO comment, background, detail)

LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - Chilean copper miner Antofagasta paid out an unexpectedly large dividend for 2013, despite a 30 percent drop in annual core profit, opting to distribute cash rather than hold it at low interest rates.

Shares in the miner, controlled by Chile's Luksic family, have long traded at a premium to its peers, largely because of generous payments to shareholders and because of a healthy balance sheet.

Antofagasta said on Tuesday it would pay an annual dividend of 95 cents, far above analysts' average forecast of 38.9 cents and implying a payout ratio of 142 percent of net earnings, up from 70 percent last year.

"This significant dividend means that going forward we will hold less cash that we have historically," Chief Executive Diego Hernandez said.

"We have been accumulating cash for some time but this money doesn't earn high interest rates, as you can imagine, in this market. Then we decided to give back to shareholders through (the) dividend while of course ensuring that we have got enough money to go ahead with our portfolio of projects."   Continuación...