AngloGold Ashanti (AU +1.5%) CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said he would press ahead with a plan to cut operating costs by $500M by year's end through mine closures and layoffs even if it took an immediate toll on earnings.
AU isn't currently looking for merger or acquisition opportunities, the CEO said after reporting a narrower Q2 net loss, calling the consolidation drive in the sector a potential source of "distraction... Our focus isn't to rush into M&A but to get the operations on a better footing."
Also, production at the two South African mines where it had suspended work after an earthquake last week is set to resume today after losing output of ~20K oz. of gold.
AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU) reports a Q2 loss of $14M, narrowing from a $3.08B loss in the year-ago quarter.
Normalized adjusted Q2 earnings of US$0.19/share, compared with EPS of US$0.02 in the year-ago quarter, with revenues inching higher to $1.36B from $1.3B a year earlier.
Q2 gold output rose 17% Y/Y to 1.1M oz., with higher production at its South African, other African and Australian mines more than offsetting a decline at its operations in Brazil; cash costs were $836/oz. vs. $898/oz. in Q2 2013.
South Africa region posted production at 319K oz., up 4% Y/Y, at an all-in sustaining cost of $1,064/oz, down 12%; international operations posted a 24% rise in gold production to 779K oz. at an all-in sustaining cost of $1,033/oz, down 19% Y/Y.
AU, which says it plans to grow production this year for the first time in almost a decade, foresees current quarter production of 1.06M-1.09M oz. at a cash cost of $850-$890/oz.
The Tanzanian government says it will invest at least $1.2B to revamp its ailing state power utility, as the country tries to guarantee reliable power to domestic and industrial consumers.
It expects the reforms to help the country attract enough investments to diversify power sources and boost generation capacity to at least 10K MW over the next 10 years, from the current 1,600 MW.
Around half of the projected new power capacity will be generated from natural-gas fired plants, as a flurry of natural gas discoveries off the southern coast has made the country a hotspot for natural gas exploration, attracting Exxon (NYSE:XOM), Cnooc (NYSE:CEO), Rosneft (OTC:RNFTF) and BG Group (OTCPK:BRGXF, OTCQX:BRGYY).
Gold mining companies such as Africa Barrick Gold (OTC:ABGLF) and AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU) remain some of Tanzania's largest power consumers.
Hinting at more mine sales ahead, AngloGold Ashanti (AU -0.2%) execs say the biggest miners will put more assets on the block as they seek to bolster margins ahead of a forecast slump in prices.
"Operations that don’t really give you much margin at those prices, really don’t belong in your portfolio, so you will see that continue," says AngloGold VP Graham Ehm; of his own company, Ehm says operations remain under review for potential sales or spinouts, with gold prices more likely to decline than to advance beyond $1,400/oz.
With operations across 10 countries, AU may consider potential sales of assets, including Obuasi in Ghana, Sadiola in Mali or Colombia’s La Colosa, analysts say.
Precious metals miners are broadly lower as gold futures head for their biggest daily drop of 2014, plunging $29.30, or 2.2%, to $1,308.10/oz.
Physical demand has remained short of expectations, Commerzbank's Eugen Weinberg says, and India's decision to maintain a 10% import duty on gold and silver likely will dampen future gold demand expectations from the country.
Barclays, which expects gold to drop to $1,200/oz. by Q3, also expresses caution, saying recent gains across the metals complex look toppy.
Beaten-up gold miner stocks are strong across the board as precious metal prices move sharply higher and take out key technical resistance levels; Comex gold jumped $41.40 (+3.3%) to settle at $1,314.10/oz., the highest level since April 14, and silver added $0.87 (+4.4%) to end at $20.65/oz..
June gold fell to its lowest level in 15 weeks, settling 2% lower $1,265.50/oz., as "everywhere the investor looks, he sees nothing but a negative for gold today." Silver slipped 1.8% to end at $19.07/oz.
Also a factor is a round of stronger U.S. economic data showing a surprise increase in durable goods orders, improved housing data and rising consumer confidence, which is providing a lift to stocks; the expiration of June gold options also is adding to market volatility.
Precious metals miners are among the day's weakest stock performers: ABX -3.4%, GG -3.8%, NEM -3.1%, SLW -3.4%, KGC -3.8%, AUY -4.1%, AU -6.5%.
John Paulson maintained his place as the biggest shareholder in the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD) as of the end of Q1, keeping his 10.2M-share stake valued at nearly $1.3B while tinkering around the edges of some single-company bets in the mining sector.
Paulson cut his stake in Freeport McMoRan (FCX) by a third and in AngloGold Ashanti (AU) by ~10%, while holding steady on positions in Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM), Allied Nevada (ANV), Gold Fields (GFI), Iamgold (IAG) and Randgold Resources (GOLD).
His biggest new positions came in Verizon (VZ), buying ~8.75M shares worth $415.9M, and CBS, acquiring a ~4.47M-share stake worth $276.6M; he more than doubled holdings in (GM, $138M) and Cobalt Energy (CIE, $499M) while cutting his stake in Hess (HES) by 62%.
So Credit Suisse's move today to lift stock price targets for Barrick Gold (ABX -4.1%) and Newmont Mining (NEM -2.1%) was ill-timed as gold miners (GDX -4%) fall sharply across the board.
On ABX, the firm raises its target to $21 to reflect the company's relatively conservative $1,100/oz. gold price assumption for reserves, exploration upside potential within its asset base (demonstrated by its 15M oz. Goldrush discovery) and strong base of low cost assets.
On NEM, the firm ups its target to $26 on higher forecast operating cash flow and a higher NAV target multiple, but a resolution of the ore export ban in Indonesia is necessary to become more constructive.
Weaker gold prices are forcing some gold mining companies to sell assets to raise cash, but AngloGold Ashanti (AU) CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan is downplaying speculation that the miner could spin off its Australian assets.
“It is a good portfolio we currently have,” the CEO says, referring to AU’s global production split of one-third from South Africa, one-third from the rest of Africa and the remainder from the Americas and Australia combined.
AU is continuing to show faith in Australia, officially opening its 70%-owned Tropicana mine in Western Australia, which is forecast to produce ~500K oz. of gold this year at a cost below that of the company’s global average.