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Weak demand pulls Freeport-McMoRan results lower Add to ...

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. said Wednesday that first-quarter profit slumped as the global economic downturn weakened metal demand and prices.

Freeport's shares dropped 2/3 per cent in electronic trading before the market opened.

Net earnings were $43-million (U.S.), or 11 cents per share, compared with $1.1-billion, or $2.64 per share in the same quarter of 2008, the Phoenix, Arizona-based mining company said. Revenue fell to $2.60-billion from $5.67-billion, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 13 cents per share, with revenue of $2.69-billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

At the Reuters Mining Summit last month, Freeport Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson said the company might have to cut more production and continue suspension of a dividend in the near term, if copper prices remain weak.

During the first quarter, the price of copper actually rose from $1.42 to $1.84 per pound. But that was still less than half the price a year earlier, when the metal was selling for $3.83.

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