Gold Fields (GFIJ.J), the world's fourth-largest gold producer, reported a 15 percent rise in quarterly profit that was just short of expectations as investors expected blockbuster growth from the surge in bullion.
Shares of Gold Fields rose more than 2 percent in early Johannesburg trade, however, as part of an industry-wide advance after bullion climbed to a record $1,813.79 an ounce.
The company stuck to its full-year production target of 3.5 to 3.7 million ounces, one that analysts said would be tough to meet, given safety-related stoppages and the impact of a strike in South Africa.
"They should just be able to make that target. There are fewer holidays in South Africa over the last half of the year," said David Davis, analyst with SBG Securities in Johannesburg.
Gold Fields will also add about 45,000 ounces a quarter to its overall output after raising its stakes in the Tarkwa and Damang gold mines in Ghana, he said.
Safety remains a serious concern. The company said it had seven fatalities at its South Africa operations and one fatality at Tarkwa during the quarter.
South Africa's mines are the deepest and among the most dangerous in the world, and authorities typically shut operations for a few days after a fatality.
Analysts had expected strong results from Gold Fields, as the average gold price was up about 9 percent to $1,509 an ounce during the quarter, and the miner had said output would rise in the April-June period.
Adjusted earnings per share totaled 184 cents in April-June, versus a Reuters estimate of 189 cents, and up 15 percent from the 160 cents it posted in the previous quarter.
SBG's Davis said earnings should also be lifted in the third quarter, given the current performance of the gold price.
The precious metal has risen 20 percent since the end of June, as investors seek a safe haven from stock market volatility and European and U.S. debt woes.
Rising costs are also a concern for the miner. Gold Fields said its total cash cost for the year would likely be $790 per ounce (178,000 rand per kilogram), sharply higher than the $760 per ounce that it estimated in February.
Gold Fields said it was hit by higher power costs in South Africa and West Africa, as well as higher-than-expected wage costs and increased royalties at all of its operations.
As expected, its output in April-June was up five percent to around 872,000 ounces.
South African gold companies typically post higher output in this period as the first three months of the year are affected by a slow restart following the Christmas holidays.
Gold Field shares were up 1.9 percent at 114.68 rand at 4 a.m. EDT, having earlier risen as much as 3 percent.
Shares of Gold Fields are down about 6 percent this year, making them the second-worst performer among the five stocks tracked by South Africa's index of gold miners .JGLDX.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by David Dolan and David Hulmes)