Teck says it can weather economic uncertainty; Q2 profit drops on weaker prices

Teck Resources said Wednesday it expects to weather any economic uncertainty after the mining company’s second-quarter profit attributable to shareholders plunged to $268 million, hurt by weaker metal and coal prices during the quarter.

That’s a drop of 65 per cent from $756 million, or $1.28 per share, in the same quarter in 2011. Earnings per share in the quarter were 46 cents.

“In summary, Teck remains in strong financial shape and is well positioned in uncertain economic times,” president and CEO Don Lindsay told analysts during a conference call.

“Our long-term view remains favourable, particularly for our key products of steel-making coal and copper,” he said.

But investors weren’t pleased with the results, with shares in Teck (TSX:TCK.B) dropping 7.3 per cent, or $2.14, to close at $27.27 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Chief financial officer Ron Milos noted the effect of a change in prices on the company.

“The key driver is the quarter-over-quarter change in commodity prices,” he said, adding copper production is increasing and is still expected to grow over the next two quarters.

“Coal production is also increasing and is moving toward our target level of 28 million tonnes of production at our existing six mines,” he said.

Lindsay said despite these increases, commodity prices were lower, in part, due to uncertainty over global economic conditions, a situation expected to continue.

Quarterly revenues also dropped to $2.6 billion, compared with $2.8 billion a year ago.

The Vancouver-based company said it had an adjusted profit of $312 million, or $0.53 per share, down 53 per cent compared with $663 million, or $1.12 per share, in the same quarter in 2011.

“Coal production was reduced by approximately 700,000 tonnes due to the nine-day Canadian Pacific Railway labour disruption which caused a complete shutdown of rail operations from our Elk Valley mines,” Teck said.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Fraser Phillips said Teck’s results are largely due to underperformance at the Andacollo mine in Chile, which should improve as projects continue to come online in 2012.

“Remaining operations performed well,” Phillips said in a research note. “Of most concern is weak coal sales volumes and price guidance for Q3 2012.”

Phillips noted that Teck has indicated that coal production and sales volumes will depend on customer demand.

So far, Teck has five million tonnes for delivery in the third quarter at an overall estimated realized price of US$198 per tonne, versus the benchmark price of US$225 per tonne for its highest quality coals, he said.

Previous cost guidance remains unchanged with operating costs for 2012 expected to be $72-$78 per tonne in 2012 and transportation costs to be $34-$38 per tonne, Phillips said.

Teck also warned of tough times ahead due to “ongoing economic uncertainties in Europe and the United States and less robust growth rates in China, India and other emerging markets.”

Teck is a diversified miner producing steelmaking coal, zinc, copper and energy. The company owns or has an interest in 13 mines in Canada, the United States, Chile and Peru and is actively exploring for copper, zinc and gold in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa.