(Adds analyst comment, updates shares)
By Karen Rebelo
April 29 Aquarius Platinum Ltd, the
world's fourth-largest platinum miner, reported a fall in
quarterly revenue and core operational earnings as a prolonged
strike in South Africa's platinum belt failed to push up
Aquarius is unaffected by the strike, giving it an
opportunity to benefit from a shortage in supply.
The company's London-listed shares rose as much as 6.3
percent but analysts said that was because a record date for a
$225 million rights issue had passed, rather than the earnings.
The miner reported mine earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $11 million for the
quarter ended March 31, down from $30 million a year earlier.
Revenue fell to $60 million from $100 million a year ago.
However, revenue and mine EBITDA rose from the previous quarter,
driven by higher output at its main Kroondal mine.
Platinum prices have not jumped despite more than half of
primary platinum production being interupted for more than three
months by the strike affecting other miners.
Platinum prices have only risen about 3 percent since
the start of the year.
The miner said average platinum group metals (PGM) basket
price in dollar terms was down 11 percent from a year earlier
and increased 2 percent from the previous quarter.
"I think pricing was expected to benefit producers like
Aquarius that aren't affected by the strikes, that hasn't taken
place," Panmure Gordon analyst Troy O'Dwyer said.
London-listed Aquarius Platinum was largely shielded from
the strike as it signed a one-year agreement with the National
Union of Mineworkers last June, a rare deal in an industry
rocked by labour unrest and a bloody union turf war. (r.reuters.com/bem88v)
The world's top three platinum miners - Anglo American
Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd
and Lonmin Plc - are caught in the 14-week
strike over a wage dispute that has so far cost producers more
than 15 billion rand ($1.4 billion).
Acquarius said attributable production from operating mines
remained ahead of its guidance and was in line compared to
production in the third-quarter of last year.
The Kroondal mine, a venture with Anglo American Platinum
about 120 km northwest of Johannesburg, accounts for about 60
percent of Acquarius' produciton.
Acquarius shares touched a high of 21 pence before easing
back a little to 20.98 by 0951 GMT.
The company plans to use much of the proceeds of its rights
issue to repay convertible bonds.
(Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Rodney Joyce)