(Recasts with CEO interview, conference call)
By Nicole Mordant
VANCOUVER, July 31 (Reuters) - Goldcorp Inc reported stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday as the company, the world’s biggest gold producer by market value, reined in production costs, but its shares slid along with other gold stocks as the price of bullion fell.
Costs plunged at Goldcorp’s Penasquito mine in Mexico as it pushed to boost efficiency and grades improved. All-in sustaining costs at Goldcorp’s biggest producing mine dropped to $362 an ounce from $1,484 a year earlier.
“I am really, really pleased with what is going on a Penasquito. They are hitting on all cylinders,” Goldcorp Chief Executive Chuck Jeannes said in an interview.
Company-wide, costs improved to $852 an ounce from $1,227 an ounce.
Goldcorp now expects costs toward the low end of its forecast range of between $950 an ounce and $1,000 per gold ounce for the full-year.
For more than a year, gold producers globally have been on a cost-cutting tear, to restore profits hit in recent years by soaring mine site costs, overpriced acquisitions and a 28 percent drop in the bullion price last year.
That is even as spending on sustaining capital, or investment required to sustain existing production, is expected to increase significantly in the second half of 2014.
Goldcorp’s gold production rose by less than 0.5 percent to 648,700 ounces in the quarter from a year ago. The increase came despite the company’s sale of its Marigold mine, and a dispute with local landowners that halted production at the Los Filos mine in Mexico for 43 days in the quarter.
The Vancouver-based company left unchanged its production forecast for the year but narrowed its capital spending forecast range to between $2.3 billion and $2.4 billion from $2.3 billion to $2.5 billion.
Jeannes declined to comment on a recent Bloomberg report that Goldcorp had expressed an interest in buying African gold mines from rival Newmont Mining Corp earlier this year.
Asked if Goldcorp would consider expanding outside the Americas, where all its mines and projects are located, Jeannes said the miner has in the past looked at assets outside its current geographical reach.
“We are one of the largest gold mining companies in the world and we can’t compete for assets if I am only looking at half the planet,” he said.
Goldcorp reported second-quarter earnings of $181 million, or 22 cents a share, compared with a loss of $1.93 billion, or $2.38, a year earlier, when the company took a $1.96 billion after-tax impairment charge.
Adjusted earnings rose to $164 million, or 20 cents a share, from $117 million, or 14 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts expected 14 cents a share.
Goldcorp’s shares were down 1 percent at C$29.92 in Toronto. Most other big gold company stocks were down around 2 percent as bullion fell on stronger U.S. economic data. (Additional reporting by Euan Rocha in Toronto; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Nick Zieminski and Steve Orlofsky)