By Nicole Mordant
Oct 23 (Reuters) - Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd reportedon Wednesday a 56 percent decline in third-quarter profit due tolower realized metal prices as well as a maintenance shutdown atits Kittila mine in Finland, but it beat analysts' estimates,and raised its full-year production forecast while lowering costexpectations.
The gold miner's net income was $47.3 million, or 27 centsa share, compared with $106.3 million, or 62 cents a share, ayear ago.
Excluding a number of non-cash and non-recurring expenses,Agnico reported adjusted net income of $60.5 million or 35 centsa share. Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 8 centsa share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Total cash costs per ounce for the third quarter were $591per ounce, 6 percent higher than in the same quarter last yeardue to lower net byproduct revenue.
Toronto-based Agnico reported record gold production of315,828 ounces in the quarter, which it said was driven by astrong contribution from its Meadowbank mine in the CanadianArctic.
Agnico increased its production outlook for 2013 to 1.06million ounces from a previous range of 970,000 to 1.01 millionounces. It also reduced its total cash cost estimate toapproximately $690 an ounce from a previous range of $735 to$785.
"What we've been trying to do with the drop in the goldprice is look at areas where we can not only reduce costs butalso help our revenue line with more ounces, and we've been ableto do that," President and Chief Executive Sean Boyd said in aninterview.
Gold prices have fallen sharply since the beginningof the year, hitting a near 3-year low at about $1,180 an ouncein late June. Gold was at $1,330 on Wednesday, down 20 percentthis year.
For 2013, expected all-in sustaining costs, a recent measureadopted by producers to reflect the true cost of producing anounce of gold, are now forecast to be approximately $1,025 perounce, down from previous guidance of $1,100 per ounce.
Agnico said it was continuing to review its businessactivities to find more cost-savings, a mantra of many goldmining companies as they grapple with soaring costs and weakgold prices.
Boyd said no assets had been earmarked for sale and Agnicowould take another 3 months to 6 months to review its 2014budget and life-of-mine plans for all its assets.
Gold mining stocks have fallen by even more than gold,raising the possibility that miners could pick up cheap assets.
"Our history suggests that just because prices are downdoesn't necessarily mean that there is good value out there.Prices are down in some cases for good reason," Boyd said. But,he added, Agnico would "continue to look".
Agnico's stock closed at $26.85 on the Toronto StockExchange on Wednesday. The stock is down 47 percent so far thisyear.
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