Fine print to set fate of gold stocks

Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:14pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Strong gold prices and tame cost inflation should lead to robust third-quarter results from Canadian gold producers, but investor focus will likely be on updates on new mines and fresh details on the unwinding of Barrick Gold's (ABX.TO: Quote) hedge book.

Reports will kick off on Wednesday with a results from Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO: Quote), one of several miners set to show a stronger profit due to a year-over-year rise in gold prices, and a recent rebound in prices for base metals byproducts that many -- including Agnico -- mine along with the gold.

Driven by fears of inflation and a sinking U.S. dollar, gold averaged $961 an ounce during the three months ended September 30.

That's up about 10 percent from the third quarter of 2008, and comes as prices for key inputs such as oil -- which hit a record high in the third quarter of 2008 -- and chemicals such as acid and cyanide have come down.

"It's the best of all worlds for the gold miners," said John Ing, president of Toronto investment dealer Maison Placements.

"It should be a good quarter for them ... and costs should be flat year-over-year because we didn't have the big energy cost that hurt last year."

Gold ended the quarter at just over $1,000 an ounce and a bit shy of record levels, but it has since smashed through the previous record around $1,030 an ounce, and was above $1,050 an ounce on Friday.