Global mining giant BHP Billiton said Tuesday its first-half net profit almost halved to US$4.26 billion on the back of collapsing commodity prices, with cost-cutting helping to stem further losses.
The 47.4 percent slump in the six months to December 31 compared to US$8.1 billion in the previous corresponding period, with revenues dropping 11.9 percent to US$29.9 billion.
Underlying earnings -- which exclude one-off writedowns -- were down 31 percent to $US5.35 billion, slightly better than analyst expectations.
The world's biggest miner has been hard hit by falling prices for its two main commodities, iron ore and oil, with a 23 percent reduction in capital and exploration expenditure helping offset some of the damage.
Despite the downbeat data, the company boosted its interim dividend by 5.1 percent to 62 cents
"Despite significant falls in the prices of our main commodities over the last six months, group margins remain healthy, free cash flow has increased and we have strengthened our balance sheet," said chief executive Andrew Mackenzie.
"We are confident that we can maintain our progressive dividend policy and continue to selectively invest in projects that offer compelling returns.
"We started to prepare for a sustained period of lower prices almost three years ago by increasing our focus on efficiency and lowering our investment," he added.
"Since then, we have achieved annualised productivity gains approaching US$10 billion and reduced capital spending by almost 40 percent."