BHP Billiton is one of the first stops for professional money entering the resources sector globally, along with being the most widely held stock by Australians. In attracting investors, BHP continues to take advantage of its historical positioning rather than offering an outstanding financial performance. The recently reported 2015/16 operating results imply having to outlay around US$110 billion in equity and additional capital over 10 years to get back something like US$112 billion before tax. Take out tax and German government bonds with a negative yield look more appealing. Even with an immediate 50% rise in the prices of its main outputs, the company’s financial return would be equivalent to buying a bond with a yield slightly below 6%. BHP Billiton is in the midst of making a very lengthy transition from being a globally recognised proxy for the Australian market to being a rather mediocre resources sector investment with neither strong financial returns nor abnormal leverage to changes in cyclical conditions. But, for the time being, it relies on the lingering effects of size and history to retain investors.
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