UBS analyst Glyn Lawcock said Rio Tinto may return as much as US$10.5 billion to shareholders over the next 18 months, The Australian Financial Review reported Aug. 3.
According to the report, Lawcock projects that the diversified miner will pay a final dividend of US$1.50 per share at the end of the year and a dividend of US$4.5 billion, or US$2.44 per share, in 2018.
Rio Tinto declared an all-time high interim dividend of US$1.10 per share for the first half, on the back of a 93% year-over-year increase in net earnings.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank economist Paul Young said the miner could unload US$2 billion of annual buybacks starting in 2018. The company increased a previously announced US$500 million share buyback by US$1.0 billion, spurred by strong operating results.