Oceana Gold posts $US56m profit

Mick Wilkes
Mick Wilkes
Oceana Gold remains on target to achieve its full-year production guidance, having posted a first-half after-tax profit of $US56 million ($NZ64.1 million).

While second-quarter production in New Zealand and the Philippines took a hit, the overall $US56 million first-half result represented a turnaround after last year's $US63 million loss, which stemmed from a $US193 million writedown of New Zealand assets.

First-half 2014 revenue of $US297.8 million included $127.5 million in the second quarter and first-half net profit of $56.8 million was achieved despite a second-quarter loss of $US2.1 million.

Oceana chief executive Mick Wilkes said despite lower production in the second quarter, which was expected, overall first-half results were a ''strong start''.

''The increase in cash costs from the first quarter was due mainly to lower sales, a higher New Zealand dollar and a draw-down of ore inventories and gold in circuit.''

Mr Wilkes noted that during the second quarter Oceana paid a further $US10 million of debt and increased cash in hand to $US46 million.

Oceana has paid about $US94 million of debt during the past 18 months.

Craigs Investment Partners broker Peter McIntyre said the result, and especially second-quarter loss, was ''slightly worse than the market expected'', and stemmed in part from higher cash costs to produce each ounce.

Oceana shares were down more than 12% yesterday after the announcement, trading around $3.42.

''This is more of a blip and not disastrous, but a trend that is likely to be rectified,'' he said.

In the first half Oceana produced a total of 147,399oz of gold, 102,133oz in New Zealand and 45,266oz at its Didipio operations in the Philippines.

A total of 11,185 tonnes of copper were produced at Didipio. ''This shows less reliance on Macraes and Reefton, in favour of Didipio,'' Mr McIntyre said.

There were several positives in Oceana being on course to meet its full-year guidance of up to 305,000oz of gold and up to 24,000 tonnes of copper, including paying off debt and maintaining solid cash reserves, he said.

The average profit margin in New Zealand in the second quarter was $US207 an ounce, compared with a first-quarter margin of $US723 an ounce.

Forsyth Barr broker Andrew Rooney said while the second-quarter result ''was solid enough'', it came in below expectations.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $US29.5 million were down $US11 million on Forsyth Barr's forecast.

''While gold sales were better than expected, due to sales from New Zealand inventory, the inventory stockpiles included `expensive' gold, meaning the cost-of-goods-sold figure was $US21.5 million higher than forecast,'' he said.

First-quarter cash operating costs to produce an ounce of gold were $US584 an ounce, compared with $US1114 in the second quarter, Mr Rooney said.

He noted the strong cash flows allowed Oceana to repay more debt.

While considering lowering Forsyth Barr's full-year forecast, Mr Rooney said a more positive gold and copper price outlook would see Forsyth Barr lift its valuation, ''albeit not enough to get close to the current share price''.

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