Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma'aden) posted a higher-than-expected nine-fold rise in net profit in the second quarter, recovering from last year's poor performance as sales increased and aluminium prices rose.
The miner made a net SR370.8 million ($98.9 million) in the three months to June 30, compared with SR40.98 million in the year-earlier period, it said in a bourse filing on Tuesday.
Earnings were expected to improve because of a slump which Ma'aden suffered in the second quarter of 2013, due to a plant shutdown and lower gold prices. But its performance exceeded the expectations of all four analysts polled by Reuters, who had on average forecast SR183.8 million.
Ma'aden is seen as a key driver of Saudi Arabia's economic diversification away from oil exports, with its $9 billion Waad al-Shimal project expected to produce up to 16 million tonnes a year of numerous phosphate products when it comes on line in late 2016.
The company cited increased sales across its product range as well as higher aluminium prices for the profit increase, which helped offset lower prices for ammonia and one of its fertiliser products.
Ma'aden gave no further detail. Saudi companies usually issue brief earnings statements early in the reporting period before publishing more information later.
The profit increase reverses a broadly negative earnings run for the company, which had reported declining profits in four of the previous five quarters - with the outlying quarter positive largely due to a one-off gain on a joint venture.
The company signed $5 billion of loan financing for the Waad al-Shimal scheme last month and is set to use much of the proceeds of a $1.5 billion rights issue, plans for which were announced in May, to fund the project.