SYDNEY, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Mining giant BHP Billiton rewarded shareholders with a bigger than expected dividend on Tuesday, signalling its growing confidence amid a resurgence in commodity prices.
The world's biggest miner reported a near eight-fold rise in underlying first-half net profit to $3.24 billion from $412 million a year earlier, just missing market forecasts for $3.4 billion. It declared a first-half dividend of 40 cents, up from 16 cents a year ago.
"This is a strong result that follows several years of a considered and deliberate approach to improve productivity and redesign our portfolio and operating model," Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie said in a statement.
Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Richard Pullin