Barrick Gold beats forecasts, raises dividend

BENGALURU/LONDON (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TOGOLD.N on Wednesday reported higher third-quarter profits that beat analysts' estimates and raised its dividend while reiterating a five-year production plan.

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The world’s second largest gold producer also said it would be at the top end of its production targets for the year and the lower end of cost estimates.

In its five-year plan, Barrick plans to mine 5.1-5.6 million ounces of gold annually at an all-in-sustaining cost of at between $850-$950 per ounce.

Helped by a stronger gold price, Barrick raised its quarterly dividend by 25% to $0.05 per share, pushing its Toronto-listed shares up around 4%. Shares in Barrick are up 20% so far this year.

“We are lifting the base of our dividend strategy (with this dividend payout),” Chief Executive Mark Bristow told Reuters, adding that this level of payout would be maintained.

Barrick, which merged with Africa-focused Randgold earlier this year, has also formed a joint venture in Nevada with the world's largest gold producer, Newmont Goldcorp NEM.N. Barrick has also completed a takeover of its African business Acacia Mining.

Gold production rose to 1.31 million ounces from 1.15 million ounces a year earlier.

Spot gold prices XAU= have surged 16% so far this year, fueled by investors shifting to safe-haven assets as a prolonged U.S.-China trade war roiled financial markets and weighed on global economic growth.

In Tanzania, where Barrick is awaiting final approval on a deal to settle a tax dispute with the government, the gold miner plans to spend $200 million over the next two years, Bristow said.

“Gold should trade at a higher multiple than its historical average, given its improved balance sheet and our view that the new management will unlock value from under-performing legacy Barrick mines,” said CFRA Research analyst Matthew Miller.

Adjusted profit rose to $264 million, or 15 cents per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, from $89 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected it to earn 11 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Barrick cut net debt by 14% in the third quarter to $3.2 billion.

Elsewhere in the sector, Newmont missed profit estimates and cut its annual output target on Tuesday.

Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Arun Koyyur. Editing by Jane Merriman