(Adds analyst comment, writes through)
BRASILIA, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale SA on Thursday reported third quarter net profit of $575 million, as the world's largest producer of iron ore returned to profit after a hefty loss during the same quarter last year.
The result marks Vale's third quarterly profit in a row, a sign the miner may be through the worst of the downturn following a torrid 2015 in which it posted the worst loss in its history due to falling commodity prices and heavy investment in new projects.
Net profit was down 48 percent from the second quarter, and below analyst estimates of $758.9 million, with Vale citing a weakening Brazilian currency against the dollar which caused a $379 million non-cash loss.
But strong cash generation led to adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $3.023 billion from net revenue of $7.3 billion, a result that analysts highlighted as positive.
"The more recent emphasis on 'value over volume' certainly appears to be bearing fruit in terms of Vale's cost position," Paul Gait, analyst at Bernstein in London, said in a note to clients.
Vale's net debt fell by $1.5 billion from the second quarter to $25.97 billion. Vale has said it aims to cut net debt to $15 billion by mid-2017, primarily through an aggressive program of asset sales.
"It was a clean result, excellent operational performance with good cash generation," Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani said in a video on the company website.
Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer and Roberto Samora; Editing by Kevin Liffey and David Evans