* Fourth-quarter adj profit $0.29 vs est $0.20
* Sees 2013 output at Rochester mine up by 35-50 pct
* Fourth-quarter metal sales fall 17 pct, but prices up
* Expects La Preciosa to start production in 2016
* Shares up 3 pct
By Garima Goel
Feb 21 (Reuters) - Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp said output at its Rochester mine would rise at least 35 percent this year after contributing record production in the fourth quarter, helping the No. 1 U.S.-based silver miner beat analysts’ profit estimates.
Coeur D’Alene said quarterly production at the mine in Nevada, its longest running, helped offset a decline in output in Mexico and Bolivia. Higher production this year would hold down costs that are challenging miners worldwide, the company said.
Coeur’s shares rose 3 percent to $19.34 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.
Miners across the globe are under pressure to cut costs as they contend with rising wages, labor unrest and concerns about commodity prices in a fragile global economy.
Coeur d’Alene President and Chief Executive Mitchell Krebs said production at the Rochester mine was expected to increase by 35 percent to 50 percent this year from 2012.
“We anticipate (the increase) will drive cash operating costs down and significantly increase the mine’s cash flow,” Krebs said in a statement.
Coeur d’Alene said it expected to produce 18.0 million to 19.5 million ounces of silver in 2013, compared with 18.0 million ounces last year. Gold output is estimated within a range of 250,000 ounces to 265,000 ounces this year, up from 226,486 ounces.
The company, named after the city in Idaho where it is based, said on Wednesday it would buy Canada-based Orko Silver Corp to secure access to Orka’s only project, La Preciosa in Mexico, one of the largest undeveloped silver deposits in the world.
La Preciosa is likely to begin production in the second half of 2016, Krebs said on a conference call with analysts. The company has estimated that the project could produce 7 million to 9 million ounces of silver annually.
The company’s $344.9 million bid for Orka had topped a rival offer from First Majestic Silver Corp.
Excluding one-time items, fourth-quarter profit was 29 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected earnings of 20 cents per share on revenue of $230 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Coeur’s quarterly profit more than tripled to $37.6 million, or 42 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, from $11.4 million, or 13 cents per share, a year earlier.
The company said its average realized price for silver rose 5 percent in the fourth quarter, while gold prices rose 2 percent.
Metal sales, however, fell 17 percent to $205.9 million in the quarter, hurt by a decline in output at the Palmarejo mine in Mexico and San Bartolome in Bolivia.
Silver output at the Rochester mine, in contrast, more than doubled to 828,000 ounces in the quarter. Gold output at the mine - which Coeur said could one day become its second-largest - soared to 12,055 ounces in the period.
Sales in the United States have doubled in the last two years, aided by growth at Rochester and the Kensington mine in Alaska. Together with Mexico, the United States could account for more than 80 percent of Coeur’s metal sales this year, Krebs said on the call.
Coeur also operates mines in Argentina and Australia.