Selling Copper Pick Freeport Mcmoran On Fears Of U.S./China Tariff War

Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold (FCX) was the third and last copper stock I added to my portfolios back in January 12, 2018–after Southern Copper (SCCO) and First Quantum Minerals (FQMLF). I added so much copper since copper prices were soaring in 2017–up 30%–and looked to move higher in 2018 as the global economy fired on all cylinders. Southern Copper was my pick for my long-term 50 Stocks portfolio because of the strength of its low-cost, long-lived reserves. First Quantum went into my Volatility Portfolio on projections for a big expansion of capacity in 2019 as new mines came on line. Freeport McMoran was a pick for my 12-18 month Jubak Picks portfolio on a belief in a continued pick up in global growth.

Well, the Trump administration’s tariff policies, which threaten a trade war between China and the United States have called that belief into question. Over the next month or so, even if the feared trade war doesn’t materialize, news that makes it seem likely–the U.S. imposition of tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese goods scheduled for the next month of so–should keep continued downward pressure on the shares of companies that rely on growth in the global economy.

That’s where I came in on this stock–and that’s where I’m exiting. The shares are down 13.78% since I added them to my Jubak Picks portfolio on January 12. The stock closed at $17.14 today, April 2, which is below the 50-day moving average. Next support comes into play at the 200-day moving average at $15.69. The 52-week range in the stock stretches from $11.05 to $20.25. The February 8 low (also the market low in this correction) was at $17.16 so Freeport McMoran cracked that level today.

The company recently announced that it will pay a dividend of 5 cents a share on May 2 to shareholders of record as of April 13. That gives Freeport McMoRan a forward yield of 1.06%. The dividend payment is an important marker for the stock since it restores the dividend suspended during the Great Recession.

Analysts had become very, very aggressive since the end of 2017 in raising their earnings estimates for the company for the first quarter of 2018 (to be reported on April 24). Estimates for first quarter earnings have climbed 22% since the end of 2017 to $2.16 a share. I’d note, however, that those rising estimates haven’t prevented the stock from selling down in either the late January drop or the renewed decline that began in late March.