Should you buy Rio Tinto shares following its quarterly update?

Let's see what analysts are saying about the mining giant.

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Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) shares had a strong session on Thursday.

Thanks largely to a jump in iron ore prices, the mining giant's shares charged almost 2% higher to end the day at $130.88.

This latest gain means that its shares are now up approximately 9% since this time last month.

What are analysts saying about the miner?

The team at Goldman Sachs has been looking over the miner's first quarter update, which was released on Wednesday.

While the broker wasn't overly impressed with its performance, it remains positive on the company. Commenting on its performance, Goldman said:

RIO reported a mixed 1Q24 result with wet weather impacting Pilbara iron ore shipments (78Mt, -6% YoY, but +3% vs GSe) and lower-than-expected mill performance impacting mined copper production (156kt, -14%/-10% vs. GSe & VA consensus). The Kennecott copper mine was impacted by another conveyor failure (although the smelter performed well) and Escondida's mill throughput dropped ~10% QoQ (note; no explanation on this), but was partly offset by higher head grades. Importantly though, the Oyu Tolgoi mine performed strongly on underground mining rates and mill throughput.

Its analysts were pleased that despite the above, management has reaffirmed its guidance for the year ahead. It adds:

Despite the mixed quarter, production and cost guidance for 2024 remains unchanged considering it's 1/4 through the year, but the Bingham & Escondida copper plants must now improve throughput to achieve the top end of the 660-720kt copper guidance range (GSe 720kt, down from 745kt). Despite the miss in 1Q, we continue to think RIO's copper guidance is conservative as RIO is taking the bottom end of BHP's Escondida copper guidance (~50kt swing) and is assuming a slow recovery at Bingham.

Can Rio Tinto shares keep rising?

In response to the update, the broker has retained its buy rating with a trimmed price target of $138.90. This implies a potential upside of 6.1% for Rio Tinto's shares from current levels.

But the returns won't stop there. Goldman is now forecasting fully franked dividends of US$4.30 per share in FY 2024 and then US$4.50 per share in FY 2025. This equates to A$6.68 per share and then A$6.99 per share at current exchange rates.

Based on the current Rio Tinto share price, this will mean dividend yields of 5.1% and 5.3%, respectively.

If we add its dividend into the equation, this stretches the total 12-month potential return to just over 11% for investors.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Goldman Sachs Group. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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