VANCOUVER (CP) -- Teck Cominco Ltd. [TSX:TEK.SV.B] earned a whopping C$510 million in the fourth quarter, up from C$285 million a year ago, pushed higher by prices for copper, zinc and coal.
The mining company said Wednesday it earned C$2.35 per diluted share for the three months ended Dec. 31. That compared with a profit of C$1.34 per diluted share a year ago.
The results included favourable tax adjustments of C$52 million and a gain on sale of investments of C$20 million.
Quarterly revenue increased to C$1.34 billion, up from C$1.05 billion in the fourth quarter of 2004.
The average analyst estimate according to Thomson Financial had been for earnings of C$1.72 per diluted share based on 10 estimates.
''Net earnings in the fourth quarter were a record C$510 million reflecting the company's earnings power in a favourable commodity price environment,'' Don Lindsay, Teck Cominco's president and CEO, said in a statement.
''The company's balance sheet at year end was the strongest ever with cash balances of C$3.1 billion. In addition, construction of the company's newest operation, the Pogo gold mine in Alaska, is now substantially complete with the first gold pour expected shortly.''
In the quarter, the company said the London Metals Exchange average cash prices for copper and zinc were $1.95 and 74 cents per pound compared with $1.40 and 51 cents per pound a year ago.
Realized coal prices averaged $122 per tonne in the fourth quarter, up from $57 per tonne in same period in 2004.
In its outlook for 2006, the company said it expected to increase gold production sharply to 440,000 ounces from 245,000 ounces in 2005 as its Pogo gold mine in Alaska begins pouring gold.
Lead concentrate production is expected to increase modestly to 115,000 tonnes, from 110,000 tonnes in 2005, while the company plans to increase copper concentrate to 265,000 tonnes, up from 263,000 tonnes last year.
Zinc concentrate is expected to dip slightly to 650,000 tonnes from 657,000 tonnes. Molybdenum production is expected to drop from 9.48 million pounds to 6.73 million pounds.
Metallurgical coal is planned to increase from 9.95 million tonnes to 10.35 million tonnes.
Teck Cominco ventured into the oilsands last year with a C$475-million deal for a 15% stake in the Fort Hills Energy project owned by Petro-Canada and UTS Energy Corp.
The company's capital spending for 2006 is expected to be C$350 million, including C$83 million on the Fort Hills Oil Sands project C$45 million for Highland Valley Copper where the company plans to extend the life of the mine by about five years.
For 2005, Teck Cominco earned C$1.35 billion or C$6.22 cents per diluted share on revenue of C$4.42 billion. That compared with a profit of C$617 million or C$2.99 per diluted share on revenue of C$3.43 billion in 2004.
Shares in the company, which reported its financial results after the close of markets, finished Wednesday down two cents at C$73.45 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
(c) The Canadian Press 2006