* Vale posts Q4 net profit of $525 mln
* Vale posts EBITDA of $4.77 bln
* Trims net debt to $25.08 billon (Adds analyst comment)
By Stephen Eisenhammer
BRASILIA, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale SA reported on Thursday net profit of $525 million for the fourth quarter, falling short of analyst expectations but reversing a heavy loss in the period a year earlier thanks to record output and higher iron ore prices.
A Reuters poll of analysts had forecast net profit of $1.8 billion in the quarter, but the world’s largest producer of iron ore fell short on account of impairments totaling $2.9 billion, principally on fertilizer and nickel assets.
In the same period of 2015, Vale reported a net loss of $8.6 billion.
The quarter marked a return to cash generation for the miner on the back of rallying iron ore prices .IO62-CNO=MB, which rose around 80 percent in 2016.
Vale posted adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $4.77 billion, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2013.
Analysts at Bernstein said the results were positive, noting the company had trimmed net debt to $25.08 billon at the end of 2016, from $25.23 billion at the same point in 2015.
“We continue to like Vale, as we believe that we have reached an inflection point for the company; cash generation and rapid de-gearing is the agenda henceforth, and we believe that the positive results today should lend further weight to this argument,” Bernstein’s Paul Gait said in a note.
With higher prices and iron ore production reaching record levels, Vale reported net profit of $3.98 billion for the full year, a huge swing from a loss of $12.13 billion in 2015, the biggest loss in the company’s history.
“With strong production and the recovery in prices, it was forecast we’d have a strong quarter and finish the year strongly. And that’s exactly what happened,” Vale’s Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani said in a video on the company’s website. (Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)