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Gold miner St Barbara posts fourth consecutive record profit

Gold producer St Barbara has posted yet another record profit and doubled returns to shareholders, while retaining firepower for potential M&A.
Gold miner St Barbara posts fourth consecutive record profit Gold miner St Barbara posts fourth consecutive record profit Gold miner St Barbara posts fourth consecutive record profit Gold miner St Barbara posts fourth consecutive record profit Gold miner St Barbara posts fourth consecutive record profit

Looking down on the Gwalia operation in Western Australia

Underlying net profit after tax rose by 26% to A$202 million, while statutory NPAT jumped by 44% to $227 million.

Underlying EBITDA was up by 8% to $346 million, while cashflow from operating activities rose by 4% to $315 million.

Basic earnings per share jumped by 40% to 44.3c per share.

Speaking on a conference call this morning, St Barbara managing director Bob Vassie said it had been a terrific 12 months for the company.

St Barbara declared a final dividend of 8c per share, taking the full-year dividend to 12c per share.

"That's double what we paid in financial year 2017, and you'd have to go back to 1995 for the previous dividend, so it's good to be back on that train," Vassie said.

The debt-free company had cash of $343 million at the end of June.

Vassie said the dividend payment still left the company with enough funds to pursue organic and inorganic growth options.

St Barbara is currently undertaking the "affordable" $100 million Gwalia extension project and investigating a sulphide expansion at Simberi in Papua New Guinea.

Drilling is underway to boost the sulphide resource at Simberi.

"What we're getting is pretty encouraging," Vassie said.

"We've got a great opportunity … so we want to leave no stone unturned in looking at that opportunity."

A previous prefeasibility study estimated capital costs of around $100 million.

"For that type of money, there's not much in Australia we can get, so we're keen to not leave that opportunity hanging," Vassie said.

Vassie reiterated that the company was looking in Australia and offshore for inorganic growth options.

"The driver for that is clearly diversifying our production base," he said.

"As we look inorganically, there's more than a couple of ways of doing that."

Guidance for the 2019 financial year is 350,000-375,000oz, slightly below the record 375,000-392,000oz produced in FY18.

"We have a track record of beating guidance, so I guess you could say we're conservative," Vassie said.

Shares in St Barbara (ASX: SBM) rose by 4.1% to A$4.155. The stock reached a high of $5.28 early last month.

*Kristie Batten is editor of www.miningnews.net