* First quarter EPS $0.40 vs $0.32
* Excluding items, EPS $0.23, flat with a year-ago
* Shares up 4.5 percent in Toronto (Recasts, adds investor comments; in U.S. dollars unless noted)
By Euan Rocha
TORONTO, May 7 (Reuters) - Goldcorp Inc G.TO posted better than expected results on Thursday, driven by an increase in gold production and lower than anticipated costs, sending its shares up 4.5 percent.
Excluding items, the company posted earnings of 23 cents a share, unchanged from a year earlier, but well above the average analyst forecast of 13 cents a share.
Canada’s No. 2 gold producer said an increase in gold revenue helped offset the decrease in silver and copper revenues. Goldcorp produces silver and copper as by-products.
Goldcorp’s results were much stronger than expected noted Brian Hicks, a portfolio manager with U.S. Global Investors, which owns about 6.5 million shares in Goldcorp.
“Goldcorp’s results generally fit into our overall theme that some of the large-cap mining stocks will see margin expansion throughout 2009, as a lot of the costs come down and bullion prices remain quite strong,” said Hicks.
Goldcorp’s net profit rose more than 25 percent, helped by lower taxes on income and mining, along with an increase in the ounces of gold sold.
The company earned $290.9 million, or 40 cents a share, in the quarter ended March 31. That was up from a profit of $229.5 million, or 32 cents, in the year-before period.
Gold production climbed 18.1 percent to 616,500 ounces and gold sold rose 17.4 percent to 607,900 ounces.
Quarterly revenue fell slightly to $624.8 million, from $626.7 million.
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company has mines in Canada and throughout Latin America. It is developing the Penasquito property in Mexico and has a share of the Pueblo Viejo joint venture in the Dominican Republic.
Goldcorp reiterated its 2009 production and cost outlook, which was issued in January this year.
“We remain confident in our existing production and cash costs guidance of approximately 2.3 million ounces of gold at a total cash cost of approximately $365 per ounce on a by-product basis and $400 per ounce on a co-product basis,” said Chief Executive Chuck Jeannes, in a statement.
The company has also forecast that output should rise to 3.5 million ounces in 2013.
Goldcorp said the Penasquito project construction in Mexico remained on schedule for mid-year 2009 mechanical completion and commercial production by Jan. 1, 2010.
Goldcorp also announced plans for the development of the Cochenour project at the Red Lake gold district in Canada.
Shares of Goldcorp were up C$1.60 at C$37.07 on the Toronto Stock Exchange at midday on Thursday.
$1=$1.17 Canadian Reporting by Euan Rocha and Cameron French, editing by Rob Wilson