REFILE-UPDATE 1-Hochschild Mining cancels dividend until further notice as earnings fall

Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:41am EDT

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(Corrects typo in reporter name at bottom)

* Co had already last year suspended dividends

* Said no payout until financial situation improves

* Adjusted EBITDA slumps 49 percent to $195.5 million

* Shares down 12.8 percent

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Hochschild Mining Plc has canceled dividend payments until its financial situation improves, its latest cost-cutting measure as it tackles the impact of weak precious metals prices on the profitability of its mainly Peru-based operations.

The gold and silver miner, which paid out a total of 0.06 U.S. cents per share for 2013, had already last year announced a temporary suspension of its dividends but that has now been extended as part of a series of cost-saving measures.

Shares in the London-listed company fell 12.8 percent to 172.5 pence by 1259 GMT, marking a sharp reversal following a rally to near six-month highs in recent sessions.

The company, which last year set out economy measures including cuts to directors' salaries and reductions in its exploration budget, as well as the dividend suspension, said adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) slumped 49 percent to $195.5 million.

The Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S consensus forecast had been for EBITDA of $176 million.

Revenue dropped by 24 percent to $622.2 million the company said.

Spot gold and silver tumbled by 28 percent and 36 percent respectively last year.

"The board proposes to not reinstate the dividend until the company's cash position improves," said Chairman Eduardo Hochschild in a statement.

Hochschild, whose Peruvian projects provide the bulk of its output, said it had identified $200 million in cost-cutting measures, of which $145 million had already been delivered in the last six months.

"This year is going to be a continuation of the same measures in the same areas and we'll also continue to put pressure on key drivers such as negotiations with contractors, with suppliers and additional productivity measure," Chief Executive Ignacio Bustamante said.

The miner targets production of 21 million silver equivalent ounces in 2014.

It said it was still on track to start commissioning its Inmaculada gold and silver project in Peru in the last quarter of this year, which it hopes will help boost its production to 35 million ounces by 2017.

After a 14 percent reduction to $18.6 per ounce in all-in sustaining costs - a measure which includes elements such as exploration - Hochschild targets a further 0 to 5 percent reduction in 2014.

The company has decided to hedge about 20 percent of its gold and silver production during the period from March to December 2014 to better manage cashflow and capital needed to finance its Inmaculada project and to repay debt.

"The group is responding well to the challenges of a lower silver price and we believe it has done the right thing in smoothing earnings somewhat with metal hedging," Citi analysts said.

The Lima-based company booked a $91 million impairment charge mainly on its San Jose mine in Argentina and its Azuca and Crespo projects in Peru, on the back of falling precious metals prices. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps and Silvia Antonioli; Editing by Paul Sandle and David Holmes)

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