Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cliffs Natural Resources: Deutsche Bank Cuts EPS Estimates in Half on Lower Iron Prices

The analysts keep piling on Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF), with Deutsche Bank the latest to predict tougher times ahead for the iron miner. The reason: lower iron prices.

Deutsche Bank’s Jorge Beristainand team explain:

DB's commodities team has cut its 2014-16E seaborne iron ore prices by an average of ~$10/t (-9%) to average ~$97/t during time period ($5/t higher-than-current spot). New iron ore price forecasts reflect recent spot price movement (-33% YTD) and considers a scenario of lower Chinese demand…

We are lowering our 2014-16E EBITDA estimates for Cliffs by 11-29% and EPS by 46-84%, on reductions of 3-8% in iron ore price realizations (as US legacy iron ore operations somewhat buffer impact of reduced seaborne prices). EPS estimates cut to $0.50 (-46% vs prior) in 2014, $0.24 (-63%) in 2015 and $0.26 (-84%) in 2016, which are fairly in-line with ThomsonOne consensus estimates of $0.13, $0.23 and $0.21, respectively, albeit an increasingly meaningless number as EPS are now trending towards pennies per share vs +$11/share as recently as 2011.

And yes, Beristain says Cliffs dividend could be at risk.”…our estimates assume that dividends to common shareholders cease to be paid starting in 1Q15 (preferred dividends continue to be paid) in effort to conserve cash,” he says.

Today, at least, the report doesn’t seem to be having an impact. Shares of Cliffs Natural Resources have gained 2.3% to $14.07 today.

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