April 28, 2015 / 10:44 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Miner Cliffs quarterly revenue falls, cuts capex

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April 28 (Reuters) - Coal and iron ore producer Cliffs Natural Resources Inc reported a 28 percent fall in quarterly revenue, and the company cut its capital budget as prices tumble.

Iron ore prices have been weighed down by weak demand for the steel-making ingredient in both domestic and international markets such as China.

Revenue from the company’s U.S. iron ore operations decreased about 14 percent to $311.8 million in the first quarter.

Spot iron ore prices .IO62-CNI=SI fell about 28 percent in the January-March quarter.

Cleveland, Ohio-based Cliffs said it expects to produce and ship 20.5 million tons of iron ore in 2015 from its U.S. business, compared with 22.4 million it produced in 2014.

The company said it was considering a sale of its North American business, which produced 1.4 million tons of coal in the quarter ended March 31.

“They’re looking to exit both North American coal and Asia Pacific iron ore but the problem is, I don’t think they have a buyer right now for either business,” Wolfe Research analyst Gordon Johnson told Reuters.

Coal miners have been weighed down by a switch by U.S. utilities to cheaper natural gas from power-generating coal, and weaker demand from top consumer China for steel-making coal.

The company recently sought creditor protection for its Canadian arm and sold its chromite assets in the northern Ontario Ring of Fire district.

Cliffs cut its capital expenditure budget to $100 million to $125 million for 2015. The miner had earlier set a capital budget of $125 million-$150 million.

The company’s net loss attributable to shareholders widened to $772.6 million, or $4.26 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $83.1 million, or 54 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell to $446 million from 615.5 million.

The company said the first-quarter results take into account the impact of the North American Coal and the Canadian businesses being treated as discontinued operations.

Up to Tuesday’s close of $5.87, the miner’s shares have fallen about 18 percent in the past 12 months.

Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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