Barrick posts market-beating profit, boosts spending

Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:04pm EST
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By Susan Taylor

TORONTO (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp reported better-than-expected profits and ambitious debt reduction plans on Wednesday, saying its balance sheet is now healthy enough to boost dividends and exploration spending.

The Toronto-based miner, which is hiking its dividend to 3 cents from 2 cents a share, said it will expand its hunt for new gold beyond trusted core districts and projects, to so-called 'greenfield' areas.

Such uncharted territory represents a higher risk of failure, but bigger potential rewards for sizeable discoveries. Some 80 percent of the $185-$225 million exploration budget is earmarked for the Americas, with much of the remainder for its African unit, Acacia.

In 2016, it budgeted $125-$155 million for exploration.

Barrick, the world's biggest gold miner, reported an adjusted profit of 22 cents a share, ahead of the consensus analyst estimate of 19 cents per share, and up from 8 cents a share in the same period last year.

Revenue increased to $2.32 billion from $2.24 billion.

Barrick, which has been selling non-core assets to help cut debt, plans to further reduce its debt by $2.9 billion by the end of 2018, decreasing its debt load to $5 billion from $7.9 billion currently.

Cash flow from operations, non-core asset sales and new joint ventures and partnerships will finance the effort, which reduced debt by $2 billion in 2016.   Continued...

Barrick Gold Corp Chairman of the board John Thornton speaks during their annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 28, 2015.    REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo