Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. Earnings: Strong Margins Continue, but Net Income Falls

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:CLF) reported its results for the fourth quarter. Cliffs Natural Resources is an international mining company that operates primarily in North America and Australia.

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Cliffs Natural Resources Earnings Cheat Sheet for the Fourth Quarter

Results: Net income for Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. fell to $208.7 million ($1.30 per share) vs. $384.1 million ($2.82 per share) a year earlier. This is a decline of 45.7% from the year earlier quarter.

Revenue: Rose 16.7% to $1.66 billion from the year earlier quarter.

Actual vs. Wall St. Expectations: Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. fell short of the mean analyst estimate of $1.57 per share. It beat the average revenue estimate of $1.62 billion.

Quoting Management: Joseph Carrabba, Cliffs’ chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, “Cliffs delivered an exceptional performance in 2011, a year highlighted with the transformational acquisition of Consolidated Thompson. With a significant organic pipeline of growth in both iron ore and metallurgical coal, Cliffs is well positioned for continued momentum in 2012 and beyond.”

Key Stats:

The company has enjoyed double-digit year-over-year percentage revenue growth for the past five quarters. Over that span, the company has averaged growth of 52.9%, with the biggest boost coming in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year when revenue rose 73.6% from the year earlier quarter.

The company fell short of estimates last quarter after beating the mark the quarter before with net income of $4.54 versus a mean estimate of net income of $3.67 per share.

From the third quarter, the company’s current liabilities fell to $380.3 million from $1.3 billion.

Looking Forward: Over the past ninety days, the average estimate for the first quarter of the next fiscal year has fallen from $2.49 per share to $1.76, indicating that analysts are growing pessisimistic about the company’s performance next quarter. The average estimate for the fiscal year is $11.46 per share, down from $12.86 ninety days ago.

(Company fundamentals provided by Xignite Financials. Earnings estimates provided by Zacks)

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To contact the reporter on this story: Derek Hoffman at

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