BHP Billiton has announced its third consecutive record annual result with attributable profit of $US10.2 billion before exceptional items. This represents an increase of 58.0% over last year's result.
The underlying EBIT of $US15.3 billion has increased 54.0% over last year and almost fivefold since the June 2002 results.
Over the past five years, the group has invested $US15 billion on organic growth projects and acquisitions. This has resulted in an average volume increase across key commodities of approximately 38%.
The company's global footprint, diverse product range and visibility to global markets has allowed the company to invest through the business cycle in value adding opportunities.
This has positioned the business to take full advantage of the current robust demand and price environment that underpins the record financial results. Full year operational records were also accomplished, with record production achieved for five major and two minor commodities.
The board declared a final dividend of 18.5 US cents per share, an increase of 27.6% over last year's final dividend of 14.5 US cents per share. This brings the total dividends for the 2006 financial year to 36.0 US cents per share, an increase of 8.0 US cents per share, or 28.6%, over the 2005 year.
BHP also announced a further capital return of $US3.0 billion to shareholders over the next 18 months through a series of share buy-backs.