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UPDATE 2-Aurubis Sees Copper Demand Staying Strong
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HAMBURG, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Aurubis AG, Europe's largest copper producer, expects to report a "robust" result in its current year, its chief financial officer Erwin Faust said on Thursday, with the group expecting demand to stay strong in major consumer China.

Results for the first quarter of the new financial year which started on Oct. 1, 2011, would show "no surprises" in either direction, up or down, Faust told a press conference after the German company posted an 84 percent in full-year core earnings.

Aurubis was observing some uncertainly among copper product customers because of the poorer economic background, said CEO Peter Willbrandt, who took up his new job at the beginning of this year. "But there is no need for pessimism," he told reporters.

Willbrandt expected copper demand from key consumer China to remain strong in the coming year. China accounts for about 40 percent of global copper consumption.

He said he agreed with analysts' forecasts that China, the world's largest copper consumer, would continue to record 10 increases in copper consumption in 2012.

"China has been using the relatively attractive recent copper prices to raise imports to rebuild inventories," he said.

Also Germany's decision to turn away from nuclear power would generate more demand for copper products, Willbrandt said.

Copper is a major material used both for electricity transmission lines and for construction of wind farms.

Aurubis shares were up 0.9 percent at 41.255 euros by 1103 GMT. The stock has eased from a record 46.84 euros set a year ago.

Aurubis's earnings before tax in the year through September rose to 292 million euros ($374 million), in line with an average forecast given by analysts in a Reuters poll, following a good performance in its main business sectors and inventory valuations.

Analysts said the earnings figures were not fully comparable because Aurubis had switched its method of calculating the value of its copper inventories.

Full-year sales rose to 13.33 billion euros from 9.86 billion, while sales in the fourth quarter rose 27 percent to 3.57 billion euros. Earnings before interest and tax rose 96 percent to 87 million.

"The company benefited from good economic conditions, higher sulphuric acid prices and higher scrap input with good (copper)refining charges," it said. Sulphuric acid is a by-product of copper processing.

Aurubis, which also took over the rolled products sector of global copper group Luvata in September 2011, said it would pay a dividend of 1.20 euros per share against 1 euro the previous year. ($1=0.7802 euros)


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