(Adds details, CEO comment, share price)
By Karen Rebelo
May 8 Randgold Resources Ltd, which
mines gold in three African countries, reported a 14 percent
rise in first-quarter profit as higher output more than
compensated for a drop in gold prices.
Randgold, which has mines in Mali, Ivory Coast and the
Democratic Republic of Congo, said profit from mining for the
quarter ended March 31 rose to $171.0 million from $150.4
million a year earlier.
Randgold, which is also developing a deposit in Senegal, has
proven more resilient than most of its peers to a falling gold
price, having calculated its reserves using a $1,000 benchmark
even as gold soared to $1,900 an ounce in recent years.
The company is forecasting a 25-30 percent increase in gold
production for the full year, on top of a 15 percent increase in
"We are very comfortable about keeping our guidance both on
production and on costs," Chief Executive Mark Bristow told
Reuters on Thursday.
Of the 18 analysts covering Randgold, seven have a "buy"
rating on the stock and three have a "strong buy" rating,
according to Thomson Reuters data. Eight analysts have a "hold"
on the stock and none recommend selling it.
Randgold produced 283,763 ounces of gold in the first
quarter, up from 199,013 ounces a year earlier, an increase
attributable largely to the start of commercial production at
the Kibali mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo in October.
"We expect to see an ongoing lift in production through the
course of the year as average grades improve and Kibali is
bedded down," said Investec Securities analyst Hunter Hillcoat,
who has a "hold" rating on the stock.
Randgold's higher output more than offset a 21 percent
decline in the average gold price received, which fell to $1,296
per ounce for the quarter.
Total cash costs per ounce fell 19 percent, helped by
production at Kibali and significantly higher grades and
recovery at the Loulo-Gounkoto complex in Mali, Randgold
The company's shares fell marginally in early trading on
Thursday. They were down 0.5 percent at 4679 pence at 0845 GMT
on the London Stock Exchange.
(Editing by Supriya Kurane and Robin Paxton)