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UPDATE 3-Freeport-McMoRan swings into Q1 profit as copper prices rise

 (Adds details from conference call, share movement)
    April 22 (Reuters) - Freeport-McMoRan Inc         on
Thursday reported first-quarter profit in line with Wall Street
expectations, benefiting from higher metals prices driven by
economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in some parts of
the world.
    The copper producer posted net income of $718 million, or 48
cents per share, compared with a loss of $491 million, or 34
cents per share, a year earlier. 
    Excluding one-time items, Phoenix-based Freeport earned 51
cents per share, matching an average of analyst expectations,
according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
    Shares fell about 3% to $34.82 in Thursday midday trading.
Some analysts had expected higher profit.
    Benchmark prices for copper, widely used in power and
construction, hit a 9-1/2 year high of $9,617 a tonne in
February, near the all-time peak of $10,190 set in 2011.
    Copper is seen as a major beneficiary of infrastructure
investments as the world shifts towards a lower carbon economy.
    "Freeport is notably well-positioned to benefit from these
fundamentals," Chief Executive Richard Adkerson told investors
on a Thursday conference call.
    The average price Freeport received per pound of the metal
rose 62% in the quarter, while production increased about 24% to
910 million lbs.
    Freeport has considered expansions in the United States to
take advantage of rising prices and expects to make a decision
by the end of the year, Adkerson said.              
    The company reinstated its quarterly dividend during the
quarter and named Adkerson as chairman.             
    In Peru, where Freeport operates one of the world's largest
copper mines, voters head to polls in June for a presidential
run-off where the leading candidate is a socialist vowing to
rewrite the country's constitution.             
    Adkerson said that Freeport has purposefully stayed out of
the country's politics, but noted the company has stability
agreements in place should a new government try to change any
operating agreements.

 (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru and Ernest Scheyder
in Houston; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Jan Harvey and Barbara
Lewis)
  
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