March 24, 2010 / 7:50 AM / in 8 years

UPDATE 1-Hochschild profit beats forecasts; CEO to leave

* Miguel Aramburu to step down as CEO to be succeeded by COO

* CFO Ignacio Rosado resigns

* Net profit after exceptionals rises to record $98.1 mln

* Says outlook positive for precious metals (Adds details)

LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - Latin American precious metal producer Hochschild Mining Plc (HOCM.L) posted better-than- expected annual results on higher metal prices and record output, and also announced a number of top management changes.

Miguel Aramburu will step down as Chief Executive for personal reasons with effect from March 31 and will be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Ignacio Bustamante. Chief Financial Officer Ignacio Rosado has resigned and will leave the group on May 31.

Hochschild’s net profit after exceptionals swung to a record $98.1 million from a loss of $24.7 million the year earlier as revenue jumped 24 percent to $539.9 million. The consensus of eight analysts surveyed by the company was for revenue of $515 million.

Hochschild previously announced that it produced 28.2 million attributable silver equivalent ounces in 2009, meeting its target, comprising 18.8 million ounces of silver and 156,800 ounces of gold. [ID:nLDE60H1O5]

Earlier this month, Fresnillo (FRES.L) — the world’s largest primary silver producer — posted a 141 percent rise in 2009 profit, but postponed a decision about its final dividend due to higher capital spending and uncertainly over prices.

Spot silver prices XAG= rebounded by 49 percent last year after slumping in late 2008 during the downturn, but are now little changed since the end of December 2009.

Hochschild said on Wednesday it had a positive outlook for precious metals.

The group also said it is significantly increasing its exploration spend to $50 million in 2010 from $28.6 million last year.

Hochschild expects output to rise to 29 million silver equivalent ounces in 2010, including 2.7 million silver equivalent ounces from its interests in Lake Shore Gold LSG.TO and Gold Resource Corp GORO.OB. (Reporting by Julie Crust; editing by Louise Heavens)

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