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African Barrick Gold 4Q Net Profit Falls; Sees Costs Rising

By Alex MacDonald Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Anglo-Tanzanian miner African Barrick Gold PLC (ABG.LN) Thursday reported a 33% drop in fourth quarter net profit compared with the same quarter a year ago as lower gold production levels more than offset a higher achieved gold sale price. But for the full year 2011, net profit attributable to shareholders still rose 26% to $274.9 million, prompting the company to propose a final dividend of 13.1 U.S. cents a share, which boosted the 2011 total dividend three-fold to 16.3 cents a share, up from 5.3 cents a share in 2010. The U.K.-listed company said it may be able to produce more gold in 2012 than in 2011 and said cash costs will continue to escalate. African Barrick Gold expects to produce 675,000-725,000 troy ounces of attributable gold in 2012 at an attributable cash cost of $790 to $860 an ounce. This compares with 688,278 ounces of gold produced in 2011 at an attributable cash cost of $692 an ounce. The U.K.-listed miner reported fourth quarter net profit attributable to shareholders of $52.7 million for the three months ending Dec. 31 compared with the same quarter a year ago. Sales dropped 8% on the year to $285 million, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, a keenly-watched company earnings metric, fell 14% to $115 million. The company's fourth quarter results were negatively affected by an 11% on-year drop in fourth quarter gold production, to 160,020 ounces, and a 21% drop in fourth quarter gold sales, to 158,869 ounces, largely due to production setbacks stemming from drought-related power disruptions in Tanzania. The production setback more than offset the positive benefits from a 19% rise in the achieved gold sale price during the same period. Attributable cash costs were up 29% on year at $779 an ounce in the fourth quarter. African Barrick Gold operates four mines in Tanzania including Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi, North Mara, and Tulawaka. The company was spun off from Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX) in March 2010, and it holds four gold-producing mines in northwest Tanzania--Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi, North Mara and Tulawaka. Barrick Gold still retains a 75% stake in the London-listed miner. African Barrick Gold's shares closed Wednesday down 0.4% at 518 pence a share, but are up 13% since the beginning of the year. -By Alex MacDonald, Dow Jones Newswires; 44 20 7842 9328; alex.macdonald@dowjones.com

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