TORONTO (CP) -- The Toronto-headquartered global gold giant, reporting in U.S. dollars, said Thursday that excluding $97 million in one-time charges it earned $351 million or 40 cents per share.
The ex-items bottom line fell short of the Thomson Financial analyst consensus expectation of 45 cents per share.
Sales rose to $1.88 billion from $1.68 billion as Barrick realized a "historically high" price of $872 per ounce while raising production to 1.95 million ounces at cash costs of $466 an ounce, giving it a cash margin of $406 an ounce.
This compared with year-ago production of 1.93 million ounces at a margin of $316 per ounce.
Copper production was 87 million pounds at cash costs of $1.60 per pound, but "a stronger operating performance is expected in the last quarter of the year."
Barrick bolstered its liquidity with a $1.25-billion bond issue last month, giving it a cash balance of over $1.7 billion and undrawn credit of $1.5 billion, against net debt of $2.5 billion.
The quarter's net income of $254 million, 29 cents per share, included $97 million in impairment charges on Barrick's interest in Highland Gold and other portfolio investments.
"While gold prices have been volatile in the face of a global credit crisis as investors have liquidated positions across all asset classes, we continue to be positive about the underlying fundamentals of the gold market and the long-term prospects of Barrick," stated chairman and interim CEO Peter Munk.
"The company is well positioned to succeed in this challenging environment and continues to offer investors a unique opportunity to participate in the gold industry leader with the highest rated balance sheet, the largest production and reserves and a track record of generating strong earnings and cash flow."
The company expects 2008 gold production to be within its original guidance of 7.6 million to 7.8 million ounces at cash costs of $425 to $445 per ounce.
Lower costs for oil, sulphuric acid and other inputs "should help to mitigate the impact on margins in the future, assuming this trend continues."
(c) The Canadian Press