Shares in copper miner Freeport-McMoRan (FCX -4.15%) rose 10.5% in November, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The advance comes after some positive newsflow for the company encouraged investors to be more optimistic about the company’s near-, medium-, and long-term prospects.
Three reasons to feel optimistic about Freeport-McMoRan
First, the price of copper trended upward in November. Having started the month at $3.65 per pound, it finished the month closer to $3.82 per pound. While that might not seem a significant advance, management outlines that a $0.10 change in the price of copper impacts $425 million in its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) in 2024/2025.
Second, copper is seen as one of the most economically sensitive industrial metals. As such, the refuse in market interest rates over the last month (following some better news on the inflation front) has encouraged investors to raise expectations for economic growth. That’s good news for copper demand, as it is a metal widely used in everything from electrical networking to construction, consumer products, industrial machinery, and construction.
Third, China is the world’s biggest consumer of copper, and its demand for the metal is seen as the swing factor in determining price trends. Indeed, Freeport-McMoRan CEO Richard Adkerson recently noted, “The world would be a better place if there is a reasonable relationship between China and the United States,” while also saying he was “encouraged” by recent developments, including the recent summit between the presidents of China and the U.S.
Freeport-McMoRan goes autonomous
In addition to the positive developments in external demand, the miner announced a collaboration with Caterpillar to convert Freeport-McMoRan’s fleet of Caterpillar trucks to an autonomous haulage system at its Bagdad mine in Arizona. It’s an exciting initiative to enhance fleet performance and reduce emissions.
It’s also highly relevant because North America is the region with the company’s highest unit net cash costs. For example, site production and delivery costs are $2.68 per pound of copper in North America, compared to $2.56 in South America and just $1.68 in Indonesia.
Where next for Freeport-McMoRan?
If the three positive trends discussed here continue into 2024, it’s a safe assumption that the miner’s stock will continue to be higher. Thinking longer term, the stock remains a great way to play the clean energy transition in the global economy.