Shares of Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:ABX) plunged Thursday after the world's largest gold producer cut its production outlook and increased its forecast operating costs as it reported a weaker-than-expected third-quarter profit.

The latest report by the Toronto-based company, which trimmed its estimated range of 2012 gold production from 7.3 million ounces to 7.8 million ounces to a range of 7.3 million ounces to 7.5 million ounces, marks its fourth-straight earnings disappointment as the cost of operating rises more quickly than the price of gold.

 

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Barrick also increased its estimate of total cash costs for gold production from an earlier range of $550 to $575 per ounce to a current expected range of $550 to $575 per ounce, largely as a result of increased expenses from the Australia-Pacific region and from its African Barrick Gold affililate.

 

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In the July to September period, Barrick reported net profit of $620 million, or 62 cents per share, compared with $1.37 billion in net profit, or 85 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. Excluding one-time events, earnings per share were 85 cents compared with $1.38 in the third quarter of 2011. Revenue fell to $3.44 billion from $3.97 billion.

 

Analysts polled by Bloomberg News expected, on average, 99 cents per share profit on revenue of $3.65 billion.

 

Shares slumped $2.62, or 6.47 percent, to $37.86 in morning trading.