Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX,ABX.TO) reported Thursday a hefty loss for the fourth quarter compared to a profit last year, hurt by a significant impairment charge related to its copper business unit. Both adjusted earnings per share and quarterly revenues topped analysts' expectations. Looking ahead, the company expects 2013 gold production to increase from the 2012 level.
The Toronto, Canada-based world's largest gold producer reported a net loss of $3.06 billion or $3.06 per share for the fourth quarter, compared to net earnings of $959 million or $0.96 per share in the prior-year quarter.
Results for the latest quarter include a $4.2 billion after-tax impairment charge primarily related to the company's copper business unit.
Excluding items, adjusted net earnings for the quarter was $1.11 billion or $1.11 per basic share, compared to $1.17 billion or $1.17 per basic share in the year-ago quarter.
On average, 20 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $1.06 per share for the fourth quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
The decline in adjusted results reflect higher gold and copper costs and lower realized copper prices, partially offset by a higher realized gold price, higher gold and copper sales volumes and lower income tax expense.
Sales for the quarter increased to $4.19 billion from $3.76 billion in the same quarter last year, and topped eight Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of $3.90 billion.
Barrick's gold production during the fourth quarter increased to 2.02 million ounces from 1.81 million ounces in the year-ago period, and total cash costs grew to $584 per ounce from $505 per ounce in the prior-year period.
Gold sold in the quarter rose to 2.03 million ounces from 1.87 million ounces a year ago, and average realized gold price increased percent to $1,714 per ounce from $1,664 per ounce in the year-ago quarter.
The company also announced that Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Igor Gonzales will retire this year, but has agreed to remain with the company until a successor is named to ensure an orderly transition.
For fiscal 2012, the company reported a net loss of $665 million or $0.66 per share, compared to net earnings of $4.48 billion or $4.48 per share in the prior year.
Excluding items, adjusted net income for the year was $3.83 billion or $3.82 per basic share, compared to $4.67 billion or $4.67 per basic share in the year ago. Analysts expected the company to report earnings of $3.85 per share for fiscal 2012.
Sales for the full year edged up to $14.55 billion from $14.24 billion in the previous year. Street was looking for full-year 2012 revenues of $14.17 billion.
Looking ahead to fiscal 2013, Barrick expects gold production in the range of 7.0 to 7.4 million ounces at total cash costs of $1,000 to $1,100 per ounce and net cash costs between $610 and $660 per ounce. Total capex is anticipated to be $5.7 billion to $6.3 billion.
Meanwhile, copper production for 2013 is anticipated to be about 480 million to 540 million pounds at total cash costs of $2.10 to C$2.30 per pound.
ABX closed Wednesday's regular trading session at $31.59, down $0.77 on a volume of 13.87 million shares. In the past 52-week period, the stock has been trading in a range of $31.00 to $50.02. ABX.TO closed on the TSX at C$31.72, down C$0.83 or 2.55% on a volume of 2.71 million shares.
by RTT Staff Writer
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