NICKEL ASIA Corp. reported an 11% decline in attributable net income last year to P2.68 billion after the listed miner and ore exporter recorded a drop in its share from two mining investments.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange on Friday, the company said its share of equity in the net income of Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. and Coral Bay Nickel Corp. decreased to P10 million in 2019, or much lower than the P348 million posted a year earlier.

“Last year was another challenging year for the company. The huge increase in nickel ore exports from Indonesia had put a dampener on ore prices for most of the year, making the company focus more on the sale of higher value saprolite ore,” said Nickel Asia President Martin Antonio G. Zamora in a statement.

The drop in the company’s share of equity from the two entities came after a decline in the average realized price of cobalt, which fell to $16.57 per pound last year from $37.35 per pound in 2018.

Nickel Asia said it recognized a foreign exchange loss of P264 million last year, a reversal of the P363 million gain from the earlier year, because of the weaker US dollar against the peso.

The company sold a total of 18.8 million wet metric tons of nickel ore, down 2.6% from the previous year. It said it had focused more on exports of higher value saprolite ore to China, resulting in a decline in shipments during the year.

Revenues last year slipped to P17.92 billion, down 3.9% from the previous year because of the lower shipments and a less favorable peso-dollar exchange rate. Costs grew by 5.5% to P7.91 billion. The company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) fell by 13.9% to P6.54 billion.

Mr. Zamora said that the company remains optimistic amid the challenges.

“The twin-effects of the Indonesian nickel ore ban, which took place on January 1st, 2020, combined with the bright outlook for LME (London Metal Exchange)-linked nickel, given the evolution of battery technology, will certainly bode well for the Company’s medium term prospects,” he said.

The company’s board of directors approved a cash dividend of P0.08 per common share, payable on April 8, 2020, for shareholders of record on March 27, 2020.

On Friday, shares in the company jumped by 3.3% to P1.86 each. — R. M. D. Ochave