July 29, 2020 / 11:36 PM / 5 days ago

UPDATE 2-Australia's Fortescue posts record iron ore shipments, beats full-year forecast

* Boost from strong demand in China on Beijing stimulus measures

* Q4 shipments 47.3 Mt, ahead of estimates; FY shipments 178.2 Mt

* Sees shipments of 175-180 Mt for year ahead (Adds fund manager comments)

MELBOURNE, July 30 (Reuters) - Miner Fortescue Metals Group on Thursday beat its full-year iron ore estimates with record shipments in the fourth quarter on the back of strong demand for the steel-making ingredient from China.

Resurgent demand for iron ore from the world's biggest importer of the raw material has buoyed prices that have far outperformed other commodities, even as much of the rest of the world is still gripped by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fortescue, the world's fourth-largest iron ore miner, shipped 47.3 million tonnes (Mt) of the steel-making material in the quarter ended June, up from the 46.6 million tonnes a year ago and ahead of an average estimate of 46.1 Mt from three brokerages.

The company reported shipments of 178.2 Mt for the year, above the miner's own upgraded forecast of 175-177 Mt, and forecast shipments of 175-180 Mt for the year ahead, boosted by expectations that Beijing will continue with stimulus efforts to stoke the world's second-biggest economy.

"Fortescue is going from strength to strength," said Andy Forster, Senior Investment Officer at Argo Investments. "Everyone's waiting for the dividend now and to see what they do next."

Shares rose as much as 3.5% to a record high before trading at A$17.25, up 2.4%, by 0038 GMT.

Fortescue received $80.64 dry metric tonne (dmt) over the quarter, or about 86% of the average Platts 62% CFR Index price, slightly short of a UBS estimate for 90% or of $84.20 per dmt.

On Wednesday, Rio Tinto said it saw a sharp V-shaped recovery in China as stimulus spurred industrial activity, helping its first-half profit beat market expectations. Both Rio and BHP reported higher iron ore output thanks to strong conditions in China.

Fortescue's costs did rise, though, to $13.02 per wet metric tonne in the quarter, nearly 2% higher than a year ago due to COVID-19.

It also slightly raised its cost projections for its Eliwana Mine and Rail project to $1.325 billion to $1.375 billion from $1.275 billion due partly to costs associated with COVID-19 impacts. First ore is expected on train in December.

Reporting by Melanie Burton in Mebourne and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Maju Samuel

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