Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:ABX), the world's biggest gold producer, said Thursday its second-quarter profit fell 22 percent as the selling price of the yellow metal plummeted, a key Chilean project suffered a production setback and it booked massive impairment charges. The Toronto company also cut its dividend by 75 percent and reduced its 2013 capital spending guidance.
The company reported a net loss of $8.56 billion, or $8.55 per share, compared with a profit in the year-earlier period of $787 million, or 79 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, Barrick earned $663 million, or 66 cents per share, compared with the adjusted second-quarter 2012 earnings of $821 million, or 82 cents per share.
Revenue, which was hammered by a 24 percent drop in the price of gold in the April-through-June period, fell 1.3 percent to $3.2 billion from $3.24 billion.
Barrick had $8.7 billion in after-tax impairment charges, largely driven by the gold price drop. It also announced a cut in its planned 2013 capital spending to between $4.5 billion and $5 billion, down from its earlier projection of $5.7 billion to $6.3 billion. The comany also reduced its cost of sales guidance to between $7.2 billion and $7.8 billion, down from $7.9 billion to $8.4 billion.
The bulk of Barrick's impairment charges stemmed from Chile's government ordering Barrick to halt production at its massive Pascua-Lama project, which straddles the Chile-Argentina border, until various environmental issues were resolved, forcing a $5.1 billion impairment.
Total production edged up to 1.81 million ounces from 1.74 million ounces.
Barrick's cost of sales rose to $1.82 billion from $1.73 billion in the second quarter of last year.
“Over the past year, we have taken and are continuing to take a series of steps to reduce costs as part of our disciplined capital allocation framework, which allowed us to respond quickly to the new metal price environment," the company said in a statement. "We have reduced 2013 budgeted capital and costs by about $2 billion which has offset the cash flow impact of the drop in gold and copper prices that has occurred this year. We have reduced all-in sustaining cost guidance by about $100 per ounce this year from levels which are the lowest of our peers."
Barrick, citing current conditions, also cut its quarterly dividend to 5 cents per share from 20 cents per share. The dividend is payable on Sept. 16, to shareholders of record at the close of business on Aug. 30. The move comes a day after fellow gold miner Kinross Gold Corporation (NYSE:KGC) suspended its dividend after posting a second-quarter loss on a big impairment charge.