UPDATE 1-Gold miner Agnico-Eagle slashes dividend citing lower gold prices

Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:04am EST

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Feb 13 (Reuters) - Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd slashed its quarterly dividend to 8 cents per share from 22 cents, saying the reduction reflects current market conditions as gold is trading about $100 per ounce lower than the company's realized price in 2013.

However, the miner reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results as its total gold production increased about 36 percent.

"Despite the strong operating results, and solid production growth ahead from our existing assets, we have decided to reduce our quarterly dividend to enhance our financial flexibility in the current lower gold price environment," Chief Executive Sean Boyd said in a statement.

Agnico-Eagle's gold per ounce realized prices for the full year fell to $1,366 per ounce from $1,667 a year earlier.

Gold prices fell 28 percent last year - the first decline in 13 years, hitting a low of $1,180 an ounce at one point. Spot Gold is currently trading at the $1,290 per ounce level.

Agnico-Eagle said total gold production in the fourth quarter rose 36 percent to 322,443 ounces pulling the full-year gold production up 4 percent to about 1,099,335 ounces.

It expects 2014 gold production in the range of 1,175,000 ounces to 1,205,000 ounces.

The company reported a net loss of $453.3 million, or 2.61 cents per share, in the three months ended December compared with a profit of $82.8 million, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.

Agnico-Eagle recorded a non-cash after tax impairment of $436.3 million during the quarter due to impairment tests at its mines.

Excluding items, adjusted net income for the quarter was $44.2 million, or 25 cents per share. Revenue from mining operations fell to $437.2 million from $449.4 million a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 19 cents per share on revenue of $394.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The weighted average total cash cost fell 19 percent to $623 per ounce of gold produced in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

The miner's gold reserves stood at about 17 million ounces at the end of 2013 with an improvement of 11 percent in average production grade to 3.51 grams per tonne.

Agnico-Eagle's shares closed at C$36.16 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

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