February 21, 2013 / 4:03 PM / in 5 years

Pan American shares rise nearly 6 pct on dividend hike

* Miner boosts quarterly dividend 150 pct to 12.5 cents

* Books $100 mln charge on value of Navidad project

* Shares up 5.7 percent on TSX

TORONTO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Shares of Pan American Silver Corp rose nearly 6 percent on Thursday, the day after Canada’s top pure-play silver miner more than doubled its quarterly dividend even as it posted a fourth-quarter loss on an impairment charge.

Pan American said late on Wednesday that it booked a $100 million charge to write down part of the value of its Navidad project in Argentina, which it shelved last year as business conditions deteriorated in the province of Chubut.

Despite the writedown, the Vancouver-based miner said it remains committed to the development of the project, which is one of the world’s largest untapped silver deposits.

Pan American also boosted its quarterly dividend by 150 percent to 12.5 cents per share, up from 5 cents a share, as the silver producer continues to generate solid cash flow.

The dividend reflects a 3.2 percent yield at the current share price and could prompt return-hungry investors to gravitate to the stock, said BMO Capital Markets analyst Andrew Kaip in a note to clients.

“However, BMO Research believes the increased dividend policy, combined with impairment charge for Navidad, signals a stalled growth strategy and continued dependence on highcost mines,” he said.

Pan American posted a net loss of $29.4 million, or 19 cents a share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31. That compared with a profit of $95.5 million, or 89 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Adjusted to remove one-time items, including the Navidad impairment charge, earnings were $55.8 million, or 37 cents a share, in line with the average analyst estimate of 37 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 16 percent to $247.3 million on higher silver and gold production.

The miner produced 6.9 million ounces of silver in the quarter, an increase of 29 percent over the same quarter of 2011, and 32,400 ounces of gold, a boost of 88 percent.

Pan American, which owns mines throughout the Americas, produced some 25.1 million ounces of silver in full-year 2012. The company expects to produce 25 million to 26 million silver ounces in 2013.

Shares were up 5.7 percent at C$16.79 on Thursday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange, helped in part by a slight recovery in silver prices, which plunged to a six-month low on Wednesday.

Reporting by Julie Gordon; editing by Matthew Lewis

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