UPDATE 3-Barrick posts big loss, slashes gold reserves
By Allison Martell
TORONTO Feb 13 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp, the world's largest gold miner, reported a big fourth-quarter loss on Thursday as it took a hefty impairment charge, cut its gold reserve estimate by 26 percent and said costs per ounce would likely rise this year.
The results fell short of analysts' expectations but that didn't stop Barrick's shares from rising as the spot gold price hit a three-month high on Thursday.
Dundee Capital Markets analyst Josh Wolfson said Barrick's shares have underperformed so far this year. "It would appear the underperformance had factored in some of this disappointment," he wrote in an email. Still, he called the market reaction to the results "unusual".
Barrick's shares were up 4.8 percent at C$21.81 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Barrick lowered its estimated gold reserves to 104.1 million ounces from 140.2 million ounces a year earlier.
Reserves are the amount of gold it is economically feasible to mine. About half Barrick's decline came because it used a gold price assumption of $1,100 an ounce, down from $1,500.
"The surprise was really at some of the higher quality assets, the core assets, that the reserves were down as dramatically as they were," said Canaccord Genuity analyst Tony Lesiak, pointing to Barrick's Cortez and Goldstrike mines in Nevada, Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic, and Veladero in Argentina. Continued...