February 12, 2008 / 3:08 PM / 10 years ago

Inmet Mining profit falls

TORONTO (Reuters) - Inmet Mining Corp IMN.TO said on Tuesday its fourth-quarter profit fell 35 percent, hurt by a stronger domestic currency.

However, production increased in the quarter and the copper, zinc and gold miner anticipated a 40-percent rise in copper output this year.

Investors were disappointed, sending the company’s stock down 79 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, to $65.50 in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Inmet earned $63.6 million, or $1.32 per share, in the final three months of 2007. That’s down from $97.4 million, or $2.02 a share, a year earlier.

The results fell short of expectations. Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates had forecast, on average, a profit of $1.91 per share, before items.

Gross sales dropped 13 percent to $224.8 million in the quarter, due in part to a 15-percent dip in copper prices and a 55-percent drop in zinc prices.

Inmet said the appreciation of the Canadian dollar crimped gross sales by $37 million in the quarter.

The company produced 21,700 tonnes of copper, up 6 percent from the year-earlier quarter, while zinc production rose 22 percent to 26,000 tonnes. Gold output declined 11 percent to 57,200 ounces.

Inmet has interests in mining operations in Turkey, Papua New Guinea, Finland and Canada, and has a 70 percent stake in the Las Cruces copper mine being developed in Spain.

It said 2008 copper production will increase by about 40 percent to 112,000 tonnes once Las Cruces begins production in the fourth quarter.

Gold production is also set to rise this year, by 28 percent to 285,000 ounces. However, zinc production will dip slightly to 79,000 tonnes.

The company has a 48 percent stake in the Petaquilla copper project in Panama, but said earlier this week that development of the mine was not certain because cost estimates have more than doubled over the past year.

It said on Tuesday the US$3.5-billion cost estimate was unchanged.

For the year, production was 79,300 tonnes of copper, 85,100 tonnes of zinc, and 223,300 ounces of gold.

Inmet had expected to produce 81,200 tonnes of copper, 82,800 tonnes of zinc and 227,200 ounces of gold in 2007.

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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