February 10, 2009 / 2:48 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Inmet posts loss on lower metal prices, charge

*Inmet quarterly loss C$0.67 vs year-earlier profit C$1.32

*Results include C$34 mln impairment charge

*Shares rise 15 Canadian cents to C$26.76 (Adds details, comments. In U.S. dollars unless noted)

By Cameron French

TORONTO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Inmet Mining IMN.TO fell to a quarterly loss on Tuesday, hurt by plunging base metals prices, a negative revision of third-quarter sales, and an asset impairment charge.

The Canadian miner lost C$32.5 million ($26.6 million), or 67 Canadian cents a share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. That compares with a profit of C$63.6 million, or C$1.32 a share, for the year-earlier period.

Operating cash flow was C$31 million, down from C$76 million the year before.

Prices of copper and zinc have plunged over the past year and fell particularly hard in the fourth quarter. The impact on Inmet’s results was amplified by sales recorded in the third quarter, but finalized in the fourth quarter at lower prices.

These “finalization” adjustments stripped C$58 million from the bottom line, while a C$34 million writedown of the company’s Cerattepe project in Turkey — which the company has decided to not move forward following difficulty in licensing — also weighed.

Negative pricing adjustments of third-quarter sales and writedowns are expected to be a feature of base metal mining earnings this quarter.

Orest Wowkodaw, an analyst at Canaccord Adams, said the pricing adjustments were about what he expected, and said the earnings were strong overall.

“They were certainly better than the number I had,” said Wowkodaw, who had been expecting a net loss of 80 Canadian cents a share.

The company’s stock, which has fallen by about 60 percent over the past 12 months, was up 15 Canadian cents at C$26.76 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday morning.

Factoring in the prior pricing adjustments, Inmet’s realized copper price was a meager 50 cents a pound, down 82 percent from the year-before period, while it sold zinc for 46 cents a pound, down 58 percent, and gold at $714 an ounce, up 8 percent from the year before.

Quarterly revenue fell 38 percent C$139.6 million. Cash costs were 50 cents a pound for copper, and $460 an ounce for gold.

The Toronto-based company said it expects its Las Cruces project in Spain to begin producing copper in April, following delays in securing water permits.

It also acquired full ownership of the high-cost Petaquilla copper project in Panama in December, and is now producing a new mineral resources statement, it said.

The drop in metals prices and tight credit markets have forced many base metals miners to cut production and close mines.

But Inmet expects higher copper and zinc production in 2009, partly due to the start of production at Las Cruces.

Gold output is expected to be in line with 2008 results, it said.

Full-year production was 80,500 tonnes of copper, 75,400 tonnes of zinc, and 244,100 ounces of gold, slightly below what the company had expected.

$1=$1.23 Canadian Additional reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Peter Galloway

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