Uranium miner Cameco profit dives 93%

Canadian Cameco Corp. (TSX:CCO, NYSE:CCJ), the world’s third-biggest uranium producer, posted Wednesday a dramatic first quarter profit drop of 93%, triggering a 5% plunge in its shares as uranium sales fell and prices were weaker.

While a decline in profit was expected, Cameco’s figures were beyond analysts’ estimates with net income falling to Cdn $9 million (2 cents per share), from Cdn$129 million or 33 cents in the same period last year.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based miner said it produced 5.9 million pounds of uranium during the quarter and sold 5.1 million pounds. A year earlier, it had output of 4.8 million pounds and sales of 8.2 million pounds.

Cameco’s average realized price for uranium dropped 2% year over year to $48.25 per pound.

The uranium market has been in a downward spiral since the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011, crippling Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.

Spot prices have dropped about 40% as several nations, led by Germany and Japan, have reduced their dependence on nuclear power.

According to the World Nuclear Association, Kazakhstan’s state-owned Kazatomprom and Paris-based Areva SA (AREVA) are the top two uranium miners in the world.