Rio Tinto share price: iron ore shipments hit 86.1mt in Q3

Rio Tinto reported an uptick in iron ore production and shipments during today’s Q3 results, while also noting that its previous guidance remains unchanged – with some exceptions.

Front-line figures at a glance

Today Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) announced that its iron ore shipments and production figures were both up in Q3. The share price was too – modestly at least – rising some 0.45% by 11:18 AEST.

Centrally, the company reported that Pilbara iron ore shipments (100%) hit 86.1 million tonnes in Q3 2019. Overall, this represents a modest 1% increase on the second quarter of 2019 and a more sizable 5% increase on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

Production also rose – as operational challenges and volatile weather conditions which had previously impacted production – dissipated. Here, Rio Tinto reported iron ore production figures of 87.3 million tonnes – a 6% bump on a quarter-over-quarter basis and a 10% bump versus Q2 2019.

Other key figures to consider include: bauxite production and shipments rose 9% and 23%, respectively over Q3 2018, while aluminium production of 0.8 million tonnes came in some 3% lower than it did in Q3 2018.

Finally, while copper production was 1% lower than it was in the third quarter of 2018 – hitting 158 thousand tonnes – as the company was keen to point it, it was ‘15% higher than the second quarter [of 2019], reflecting higher grades at Kennecott and improved throughput at Escondido.’

Rio Tinto share price: CEO comments

Commenting on today’s Q3 production results, Rio Tinto’s CEO, Jean-Sébastien Jacques said:

‘We have delivered improved production across the majority of our products in the third quarter, with a solid result at our Pilbara mines driving increased sales of iron ore into robust markets.’

As has been the focus in recent times, Mr Jacques pointed out that:

‘Our strong value over volume approach, coupled with our focus on operational performance and disciplined allocation of capital, will continue to deliver superior returns to shareholders over the short, medium and long term.’

Rio Tinto share price: analyst comments

Analysts were quick to comment on the iron ore behemoth’s Q3 update.

Speaking of these results, Ord Minnett this morning noted that the Q3 results were both strong and likely ahead of market expectations. Ord Minnett currently has a buy rating and a A$99.00 share price target on the iron ore giant.

Rio Tinto also commented that:

‘Guidance is unchanged, with the exception of bauxite production, which has been revised to around 54 million tonnes (previously 56 to 59 million tonnes), and alumina production, which has been revised to around 7.7 million tonnes (previously 8.1 to 8.4 million tonnes).’

Mind you, it’s not all bullish. Credit Suisse currently has a target share price of A$86 on Rio Tinto and an 'underperform' rating.

YTD Rio Tinto’s share price has gained approximately 18%; trailing only slightly behind the ASX 200.

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