Silver Wheaton profit inches up, sales to jump

TORONTO (Reuters) - Fourth-quarter profit at Silver Wheaton Corp SLW.TO edged higher, and the Canadian company said a couple of silver-purchase contracts signed last year should nearly double sales by 2010.

The firm, which buys the silver produced by several miners, earned $24.9 million, or 10 cents a share, in the period, compared with $23.8 million, or 10 cents a share, a year earlier.

Silver Wheaton sold 3.5 million ounces of silver at an average prices of $14.18 an ounce in the quarter, flat from 3.5 million ounces at $12.35 in the same period a year earlier.

It said future sales should get a boost from two purchase agreements -- for all of the silver from Hellas Gold's Stratoni mining operations in Greece, and for 25 percent of the silver from Goldcorp's G.TO Penasquito project in Mexico -- which were worth a combined $558 million.

It expects to have silver sales of about 15 million ounces in 2008, 19 million ounces in 2009, and 25 million ounces in 2010. That compares with about 13 million ounces in each of 2006 and 2007.

Earlier this month, Goldcorp, Canada’s second-biggest gold producer, closed the deal to sell its 48-percent stake in Silver Wheaton for about C$1.6 billion.

Silver Wheaton buys silver under contracts with miners, then resells the metal at market prices.

($1=$1.00 Canadian)

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Bernadette Baum