Stock of the week – A look at BHP shares and their performance

BHP Billiton (BHP) shares have enjoyed a solid run since bottoming out in November last year.

BHP is the world’s largest diversified resources company, with a global portfolio of high quality assets and more than 100 operations in 25 countries. It is an industry leader in most of the major commodities markets, including aluminium, coking and thermal coal, copper, manganese, iron ore, uranium, nickel, silver and titanium. On top of this, BHP has sizeable interests in oil, gas, natural gas and diamonds.

Despite the fall in sales and profits due to the global financial crisis, BHP dividends increased by 17% to 82 US cents for FY09. In the latest BHP news, first quarter iron ore production rose to 30.1 million metric tonnes, a company record but still slightly below market hopes for a big leap.

Looking ahead, BHP forecasts Chinese government stimulus policies to support short-term economic growth, but its long-term remains uncertain. BHP Billiton also confirmed restocking of commodities in China is now complete, and forecasts Escondida’s production in FY10 to rise by 5%-10%.

The improvement in demand has seen BHP Billiton shares rise over 100% over the past 12 months from a low of $20.