Diverse market reactions to Newcrest profit slump

Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM),(TSX:NM), Australia’s largest gold producer, won back some much needed investor support after revealing that its over $3.3 billion investment in new projects was proceeding without drama, putting the company in a position to look at cranking up future dividend payments.

The Melbourne-based miner said Friday net profit in the six months to Dec. 31 slipped to $329 million from $680 million a year earlier, after gold production dropped 18%.

Still, shares in the company closed Friday 5% higher to $24.52 in Sydney, easing some of the investor pain associated with the stock’s 30% decline in the past year due to production shortfalls in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Ivory Coast.

However, the company’s stocks were falling almost 11% to 23.21at 9:30 ET am this morning in the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Newcrest said output would be higher in the second half as two gold projects ramped up production. The Cadia Valley site in New South Wales state has been expanded and the Lihir plant in Papua New Guinea was upgraded–improvements Newcrest said would underpin much of its production growth over the coming years.

Chief executive Greg Robinson said Newcrest’s key objective was to generate strong returns from the two projects, return gearing levels to 10% on a long-term basis (16.9% currently, which is above its preferred maximum of 15%) and then distribute the surplus to shareholders.

He reported that the company was seeing cost pressures ease. “It is good to see costs finally have some containment,” Robinson said. “But the real gains for Newcrest are in productivity gains on the (mine) sites.”

(Image Copyright: Elnur)