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BHP hikes payout, slashes debt as earnings surge

Resurgent commodity prices and buoyant production levels have helped propel BHP Billiton’s earnings sharply higher, with the company hiking the dividend as it also slashed debt.The net profit surged to $US3.2 billion for the December half, up by 157 per cent, on revenue of $US18.8 billion, which rose a more modest 20 per cent.

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The busiest week for the ASX 200 earnings season Over 75 companies will report as the cyclical side of the market opens its books. The big names to watch include BHP, FMG, Woodside, Woolworth, QANTAS and many, many more.

The big lift in earnings prompted a boost to the interim dividend to US40¢ a share from US16¢  a share paid a year ago.In the December half of 2015, the group booked a $US5.4 billion loss, due to heavy write-downs on its US oil assets and al…

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