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Barrick Lifts Dividend As Gold Prices Help Q1 Profit Edge Higher

Higher gold prices helped Canadian miner Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX,ABX.TO: Quote) to report a small increase in first-quarter profit. The company also hiked its quarterly dividend by 33 percent.

Gold output for the quarter was lower than last year. The miner expects the decline to continue in the ongoing quarter, but it maintained its full year gold production view.

The company produced 1.88 million ounces of the yellow metal during the quarter, lower than 1.96 million ounces in the previous year. Average realized price increased 22 percent to $1,691 per ounce. Copper production increased from a year ago, but prices were lower.

In the first quarter, net income attributable to equity holders rose to $1.03 billion or $1.03 per share in the first quarter from $1.00 billion or $1.00 per share reported last year.

Excluding one-time items such as impairment charges and asset sale gains, basic net earnings grew to $1.09 per share from $1.01 per share in same quarter a year ago.

On average, 18 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $1.11 per share in the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Revenues for the quarter rose to $3.64 billion from $3.09 billion in the same quarter last year, but came in below analysts' estimate of $3.76 billion.

Aaron Regent, president and chief executive officer of the company said, "We had good operating performance, which translated into solid financial results and further advanced our projects under construction..."

Looking ahead to the second quarter, the company expects gold production to be lower than the first quarter, mainly due to sequencing and maintenance activities at some of its mines. Copper output too will be impacted by maintenance measures. However, it expects gold and copper production to increase during the second half.

Looking ahead, Barrick maintained its 2012 gold production guidance of 7.3-7.8 million ounces. The board authorized a quarterly dividend of 20 cents per share, up 33 percent from the previous quarterly dividend of 15 cents per share.

In addition, the company announced the appointment of Igor Gonzales as its executive vice president and chief operating officer, effective today, replacing retiring COO Peter Kinver. Gonzales was previously president of Barrick's South America region.

ABX closed Tuesday's regular trading at $40.44 on the NYSE. In the pre-market, the shares are down 1.58 percent. ABX.TO ended at C$39.89 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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