Investors in the 165-year old natural resources company have not had a good year.
The Ohio-based Cliffs Natural Resources (Fortune 500) deals mostly in coal and iron ore, and it is the country's leading producer of iron ore pellets, as well as a significant producer of metallurgical coal. In the first quarter, higher mining and transportation costs contributed to a decline in earnings, despite a boost in revenue. The story hadn't improved much by the third quarter, when the company announced another round of miserable profits: $85 million for the quarter, down from $601 million the year before. ,
In November, Goldman Sachs analysts downgraded the stock from hold to sell, and shares went down 12% in a single day. Goldman analysts also noted that the company had repeatedly failed to hit its internal financial targets, and the chances that they'll start hitting those targets any time soon aren't particularly good. A month later, Goldman issued a further warning about the firm's competition: China's ore producers could ratchet up production by 30% in 2013.
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