(Recasts with comments from conference call, updates stock price)
By Nicole Mordant and Susan Taylor
TORONTO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Goldcorp Inc said on Thursday it expected “very strong” fourth-quarter production after its third-quarter earnings and output fell short of market expectations, pushing its stock down to a six-year low.
Goldcorp, the world’s biggest gold company by market value, repeated that its 2014 production will come in at the low end of its forecast of 2.95 million to 3 million ounces.
“The production is delayed rather than lost. So, as has been the case for us in prior years, because we are growing production. We expect a very strong fourth-quarter finish,” Goldcorp Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jeannes said on a conference call.
Part of the reason for lower third-quarter output was the planned processing of low-grade stockpiled ore at Goldcorp’s Penasquito mine in Mexico, Jeannes said. But that was just a temporary blip as the company got back to higher-grade material, he added.
Goldcorp in January unveiled a rejigged mine plan for Penasquito to focus on higher-grade ore. Investors are demanding that miners focus on profits over production in the face of a gold price that has fallen by a third in three years.
While Goldcorp’s total production rose to 651,700 ounces of gold in the third quarter, from 637,100 ounces a year earlier, lagging market expectations.
TD Securities analyst Greg Barnes said production missed his estimate of 761,000 ounces and that Goldcorp’s 2014 forecast “looks like a stretch.”
Production in 2014 will be pinched by lower-than-expected production at its El Sauzal mine in Mexico, Goldcorp said, and a second-quarter work stoppage at Los Filos, also in Mexico.
Mining at El Sauzal was halted last month as a safety precaution due to pit wall instability. Los Filos operations were suspended for about a month in April due to a dispute with a group of local landowners.
The Vancouver-based company has suspended all development work at its El Morro gold and copper mine in Chile after the Supreme Court in the South American country ruled this that local indigenous groups who oppose the $3.9 billion project need to be better consulted, said Russell Ball, Goldcorp’s vice-president of capital management.
Goldcorp said third-quarter adjusted earnings fell to $70 million, or 9 cents a share, from $190 million, or 23 cents a share, in the same period last year, below analysts’ expectations of 18 cents.
Goldcorp shares closed at C$20.84 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, a 13 percent decline. The stock was also weighed down by a slide in the price of gold to below $1,200 an ounce, which hit gold stocks across the board.
The Goldcorp results included a writedown of $36 million, or 4 cents per share, on the value of low-grade Penasquito stockpiles.
All-in sustaining costs per ounce of gold climbed to $1,066, compared to $995 last year, as the average realized gold price fell to $1,266 an ounce, from $1,339.
Goldcorp said it sees 2014 all-in sustaining costs at the low end of its forecast range of $950 to $1,000 per ounce. (Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by W Simon and Alan Crosby)