Rio Tinto plc (NYSE: RTP) and BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) are both basic materials companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, valuation, dividends, profitability, earnings, institutional ownership and risk.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current ratings and recommmendations for Rio Tinto plc and BHP Billiton Limited, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Rio Tinto plc 0 0 0 0 N/A
BHP Billiton Limited 5 5 5 0 2.00

BHP Billiton Limited has a consensus price target of $34.61, indicating a potential downside of 15.65%.

Profitability

This table compares Rio Tinto plc and BHP Billiton Limited’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Rio Tinto plc 17.01% 16.16% 7.28%
BHP Billiton Limited N/A N/A N/A

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Rio Tinto plc and BHP Billiton Limited’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Rio Tinto plc N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
BHP Billiton Limited $38.67 billion 2.82 $19.24 billion N/A N/A

BHP Billiton Limited has higher revenue and earnings than Rio Tinto plc.

Dividends

BHP Billiton Limited pays an annual dividend of $1.72 per share and has a dividend yield of 4.2%. Rio Tinto plc does not pay a dividend.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

3.0% of BHP Billiton Limited shares are owned by institutional investors. 0.0% of BHP Billiton Limited shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Summary

BHP Billiton Limited beats Rio Tinto plc on 5 of the 8 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Rio Tinto plc

Rio Tinto plc is a mining and metals company. The Company’s business is finding, mining and processing mineral resources. The Company’s segments include Iron Ore, Aluminium, Copper & Diamonds, Energy & Minerals and Other Operations. The Company operates an iron ore business, supplying the global seaborne iron ore trade. Its Iron Ore product operations are located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The Aluminium business includes bauxite mines, alumina refineries and aluminum smelters. Its bauxite mines are located in Australia, Brazil and Guinea. The Copper & Diamonds segment has managed operations in Australia, Canada, Mongolia and the United States, and non-managed operations in Chile and Indonesia. The Energy & Minerals segment consists of mining, refining and marketing operations in over 10 countries, across six sectors: borates, coal, iron ore concentrate and pellets, salt, titanium dioxide and uranium.

About BHP Billiton Limited

BHP Billiton Limited is a global resources company. The Company is a producer of various commodities, including iron ore, metallurgical coal, copper and uranium. Its segments include Petroleum, Copper, Iron Ore and Coal. The Petroleum segment is engaged in the exploration, development and production of oil and gas. The Copper segment is engaged in mining of copper, silver, lead, zinc, molybdenum, uranium and gold. The Iron Ore segment is engaged in mining of iron ore. The Coal segment is engaged in mining of metallurgical coal and thermal (energy) coal. Its businesses include Minerals Australia, Minerals Americas, Petroleum and Marketing. The Company extracts and processes minerals, oil and gas from its production operations located primarily in Australia and the Americas. The Company manages product distribution through its global logistics chain, including freight and pipeline transportation. Its businesses include Minerals Australia, Minerals Americas, Petroleum and Marketing.

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