Molycorp slumps 17 percent to record low on bigger quarterly loss

Thu May 8, 2014 1:52pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Molycorp Inc (MCP.N) shares slumped 17 percent on Thursday in the wake of the U.S.-based rare earths producer's results a day earlier which showed a bigger first-quarter loss and production hiccups at a newly expanded processing plant in California.

Market concerns about the rate at which the Denver-area company was burning through cash and the possibility that it may have to tap the market for more funds later in the year sent the stock to an all-time low of $3.76 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company reported a net loss on Wednesday of $86.0 million as rare earth prices dropped, more than double its loss of $38.2 million a year earlier, and it produced less material than expected at its Mountain Pass facility in California.

"In one word, it is all about uncertainty... They were not able to really tell the market when Mountain Pass will be running at the levels - production and cost - that they need," said Luisa Morena, an analyst at Euro Pacific Canada.

Molycorp has sunk $1.25 billion into modernizing and expanding the Mountain Pass facility. But production interruptions in the first quarter resulted in output being less than the company expected.

The company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010 at $13, and soared above $79 in May 2011 when rare earth prices were rallying.

Prices of rare earths - an essential part of many high-tech products from smartphones to hybrid cars - have dropped since early 2011 as China, the world's main producer, eased export controls.

It is "pretty certain" that Molycorp will try to raise funds in the market again, Morena said.

"They have some $1.3 billion in debt and they will have to restructure that next year or maybe later this year... if the market doesn't improve," she said.

(Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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