Barrick Gold said Thursday that it posted a fourth-quarter profit as the world's leading gold producer capitalized on higher gold and copper prices.
The company, based in Toronto, said it made $215 million, or 21 cents per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $468 million, or 53 cents per share, in the year ago quarter.
Discounting charges, Barrick said it would have made $604 million, or 61 cents per share, in the quarter, more than double the $277 million, or 32 cents per share, in made in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Part of those charges included $241 million, or 24 cents per share, the gold producer paid to free itself from hedges usually used to protect against falling gold prices.
With investors were snapping up gold to guard against inflation last year, Barrick shed those hedges believing that prices were only heading higher.
Gold prices hit a record $1.227.50 an ounce in early December.
Revenue for the quarter totaled $2.4 billion, up from $2.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008. The company said higher margins on gold and copper along with higher copper sales offset lower gold sales.
The company said it will buy an additional 25 percent interest in the Cerro Casale project in Chile from Kinross Gold Corp. for $475 million. That gives Barrick 75 percent ownership of the project. It also plans to create African Barrick gold, a company that will own Barrick's African gold mines and exploration properties.
The company said it expects gold production to rise to a range of 7.6 million to 8 million ounces from 7.4 million ounces in 2009 and that it has the industry's largest proven and probably reserve base at 139.8 million ounces.
For the year, Barrick said it lost $4.3 billion, or $4.74 per share, compared with profit of $785 million, or 90 cents per share, in 2008. Discounting charges, Barrick said it made $1.8 billion, or $2 per share, in 2009 compared with $1.7 billion, $1.90 per share in 2008.
Revenue rose to $8.1 billion in 2009 from $7.6 billion in 2008.
In premarket trading, company shares edged down 31 cents to $37.55.
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