Lex: BHP Billiton

As significant as what BHP Billiton announced on Wednesday, was what it didn't. Half-year results for the world's largest miner were better than expectations on almost every line: net income up 134 per cent, abundant free cash flow, net gearing less than half of the group's 10-year average. But there was no news of a widely-anticipated share buyback. The big question now is what Jacques Nasser, succeeding Don Argus as chairman sometime early this year, does with the sector's best-looking balance sheet. Investment in the business, rather than outside it, looks the smartest option. Ben McLannahan analyses the latest results from the world's largest miner.