By Rod Nickel
Oct 30 (Reuters) - Uranium miner Cameco Corp reported a sharp rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday due to higher uranium sales and prices, sending its shares up nearly 6 percent in early trading.
Cameco, which has contracts with customers at prices above the spot market, sold 8.5 million pounds of uranium in the third quarter, up from 5.2 million a year earlier. The company's average realized price was $50.73 per pound, up from $45.26.
The strong results came despite generally weak uranium demand and spot prices since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami March 2011, which crippled the Fukushima-Daiichi atomic power plant and prompted the shutdown of nearly all of its reactors.
Cameco trimmed its forecast for 2013 uranium production to 23.1 million pounds from 23.3 million pounds. It said in September that it would delay the start-up of its high-grade Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan until the first quarter of 2014.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company left its 2013 sales forecast unchanged at 31 million to 33 million pounds, including sales of uranium purchased form other miners. Last year it sold 32.5 million pounds of uranium.
Net earnings for the third quarter jumped to C$211 million, or 53 Canadian cents per share, from C$79 million, or 20 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
Revenue more than doubled to C$597 million.
Adjusted earnings were C$208 million, or 53 Canadian cents per share, up from C$49 million or 12 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts were expecting earnings per share of 17 Canadian cents and revenue of C$564 million.
Shares of Cameco, the world's No. 3 uranium producer, jumped to $19.21 in New York and C$20.06 in Toronto in early trading
Chief Executive Tim Gitzel said in August that the company would cut costs by 10 percent to boost profits.