BHPBilliton (BLT LN, GBP 21.20 a share) hasoverhauled Anglo American (AAL LN GBP 34.39) as the largest stock, by value,listed in Johannesburg. If this seemssurprising, given that BHP Billiton ranks as the most valuable diversifiedresources stock in the world, it's because the JSE only recognises 39.7% of BHPBilliton's issued shares.
WhenBHP (based in Australia) merged with Billiton (based in London) on June 29 2001, the companies adopted a DLC (duallisted company) structure, previously also used by Rio Tinto (RIO LN, GBP 69.08), currentlyranked the third most valuable mining stock in the world. The DLC structure inboth cases used London and Australia for the dual listings,and as such, the Johannesburg bourse only recognisesthe BHP Billiton shares listed in London.
Ifthe JSE recognised all shares issued by BHP Billiton, it would totally dominatethe Johannesburg market, one that isincreasingly distorted by the persistent outperformance of resources stocks.The performance of these stocks reflects increasingly less of what's happeningin South Africa. There is a growinglobby which aims to promote the idea of quoting two broad indices for the Johannesburg bourse, including a newone that will far more accurately include stocks predominantly linked to theunderlying performance of the South African economy.
BHPBilliton's combined market capitalisation on Thursday was $242bn, of which$96bn is recognised by the JSE. The latter outflanks the market capitalisationof Anglo American, which, on a 100% basis, reflected a number of $90bn onThursday. BHP Billiton's stock price has been outperforming Anglo American'ssince 2004, but especially since early 2006, for a number of reasons.
Onekey has been BHP Billiton's choice of sub-sectors: aluminium, energy coal and metallurgicalcoal, copper, manganese, iron ore, uranium, nickel, silver and titaniumminerals, along with substantial interests in oil, gas, liquefied natural gasand diamonds. BHP Billiton this week also made a firm commitment to a future ofmining potash, currently the world's hottest mining story.
AngloAmerican, by contrast, is invested in platinum, diamonds, coal, base andferrous metals, and industrial minerals; it is selling out of its interest ingold. Where BHP Billiton typically aims to control as close as possible to 100%of an asset, Anglo American is somewhat hampered by a number of key holdingsthat are indirectly managed.
WhereAnglo American holds significant stakes in Anglo Platinum (AMS SJ, ZAR1,344.72) and Kumba Iron Ore (KIO SJ, ZAR 312.99), these are listed stocks thatremain answerable to all shareholders. Anglo American holds 44% of Collahuasi,a huge copper mine in Chile, and a major moneyspinner, and 45% of De Beers, the world's leading rough diamond company, whichremains under the control of the Oppenheimer family.
AngloAmerican's structure is relatively awkward, compared to BHP Billiton's, butperhaps the most fundamental reason for the ongoing outperformance of BHPBilliton relates to its focus, especially after the re-engineering of BHP inthe late 1990s, on large, low-cost, world class projects. As one example,should the expansion of the Olympic Dam operation in Australia be given thego-ahead, the world's biggest mining project will be underway, forming whatwould be the No 1 copper mine globally, the No 1 uranium producer, and, on theside, a position among the top 10 gold mines.
Forthe meantime, BHP Billiton's intense and expanding interests in bulkcommodities - particularly iron ore, coal and bauxite (the virgin feedstock foraluminium smelting) - appear likely to ensure that it continues to outperformAnglo American. It is bulk, price inelastic, commodities that are best-placedto continue benefiting from Asia's industrialization, ledby China.
World's dominant mining stocks
Source: data from Bloomberg; table compiled by Barry Sergeant