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Update: Cliffs Natural Resources' Q4 Earnings Report Is Bullish

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF) has just reported its fourth-quarter earnings. The results are surprising, as the company managed to achieve fourth-quarter adjusted net income of $166 million despite significant pressure from low iron ore prices. In my view, Cliffs reported a number of positive achievements that confirm my previous bullish thesis. Cliffs continued to improve on the cost side in the fourth quarter. Cash costs at the company's core U.S. segment declined to $63.76 per ton from $64.87 per ton in the third quarter. Cash costs at Cliffs' Australian iron ore business improved from $52.36 per ton in the third quarter to $43.77 per ton in the fourth quarter. This is a major achievement, as Cliffs' Australian business suffered the most from low iron ore prices. Revenue per ton in the Australian iron ore segment declined from $69.04 in the third quarter to $54.96 per ton in the fourth quarter. However, the company managed to offset this decline with lower costs. The performance of the Australian iron ore segment leaves hope that those assets could ultimately be sold. Cost performance at Cliffs' North American coal business remained roughly unchanged compared to the third quarter. Cliffs' North American coal business remains a zero-EBITDA contributor, which is a decent achievement in the current price environment. This year, Cliffs expects that U.S. cash costs of goods sold at the U.S. iron ore segment will be $60-65 per ton, while Australian costs will be $40-45 per ton. Cliffs has already achieved a major improvement on the cost side since the company's new management began to work in August 2014, so I would not be very surprised if Cliffs' 2015 costs will be at the low end of its…