UPDATE 1-Agnico-Eagle hits record gold output in 2012, costs weigh

Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:02pm EST

* Adj Q4 EPS $0.41 v Street view $0.44

* Revenue up 4 percent at $466.8 million

* Company produces record 1 million oz of gold in 2012

* Eyes 20 percent production growth in 2013-2015

TORONTO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Canada's Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd produced a record 1 million ounces of gold in 2012, but fourth quarter adjusted earnings fell short of analysts' expectations as higher costs squeezed margins.

The gold miner reported a profit of $82.8 million, or 48 cents a share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31. That compared with a loss of $601.4 million, or $3.53 a share, in the year-ago period, when it wrote down part of the value of its Meadowbank mine in the Canadian Arctic.

Excluding one-time items, profit was $69.9 million, or 41 cents a share in the quarter, below the average analyst estimate of 44 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $466.8 million, on higher gold output and a stronger gold price.

Agnico produced 236,535 ounces in the quarter, up slightly from 227,792 ounces in the year-ago quarter. The realized gold price rose 3 percent to $1,684 an ounce, while cash costs climbed 15 percent to $769 per ounce.

The company is focused on improving operations at its existing mines in order to bring unit cash costs down, Chief Executive Sean Boyd told Reuters.

"Now that we've completed the building phase ... and these mines are more steady state, we've shifted into the more optimization efficiency mode," he said.

"We expect to be able to continue to make some improvements at a couple of our big mines."

For the full year in 2012, the company produced more than 1 million ounces of gold, passing that threshold for the first time in its 55-year history.

Production in 2013 is forecast to be in the range of 970,000 to 1 million ounces, while cash costs are expected to be in the range of $700 to $750 an ounce. That compared with $640 an ounce in 2012.

Over the next two years, Agnico expects to boost gold output by about 20 percent, as new projects come into production and grades improve at some of its existing mines.

The company, which owns operations in Canada, Finland and Mexico, anticipates gold production of 1.2 million ounces a year by 2015.

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