HudBay profit plunges 83 pct on weak zinc price

TORONTO, March 18 Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:23am EDT

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TORONTO, March 18 (Reuters) - HudBay Minerals Inc (HBM.TO) said late on Monday its fourth-quarter profit plunged 83 percent due to lower zinc prices and a strong Canadian dollar.

Canada's third-biggest zinc and copper producer earned C$28.5 million, or 22 Canadian cents a share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, down from C$165.8 million, or C$1.29 a share, a year earlier.

The company said its profit was dented by the robust Canadian dollar, which cost Hudbay about C$43.1 million, and a lower average realized zinc price, which averaged about US$1.19 per pound during the quarter.

Revenue in the quarter was C$242.6 million, down 22.5 percent from C$313.1 million in the previous year. Operating cash flow was C$83.8 million, down from C$148.5 million.

Analysts expected an average of 35 Canadian cents a share on revenue of C$275.7 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company produced 31,383 tonnes of zinc during the quarter, down from 31,959 tonnes for the same period in 2006, while copper production was flat at 23,194 tonnes.

The company said it expects growth in zinc metal production in 2008, with gold and silver production forecast to be similar to 2007. Copper metal production from HudBay's own mines is also expected to be similar to 2007 levels, with somewhat lower copper metal production from purchased copper concentrates. ($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Anderson; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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