Inco: Sweet, Sweet Nickel

Profit and sales soar.
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beat third-quarter earnings targets Friday, citing strong nickel pricing.

The Toronto-based miner made $701 million, or $3.36 a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, up from the year-ago $64 million, or 34 cents a share.

Earnings for the latest period were $3.13 a share on an adjusted basis, excluding certain items.

Sales more than doubled to $2.32 billion from $1.08 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a $2.09-a-share profit on sales of $1.87 billion.

"Our record quarterly earnings reflect the unprecedented sustained strength we've seen in the nickel market, combined with strong production from our operations," said CEO Scott Hand.

The London Metal Exchange benchmark cash nickel price rose to a record quarterly average of $13.24 per pound, double the year-ago level.

The news comes just a month after Inco, which is in the process of being acquired by Brazil's


(RIO) - Get Report

, forecast an

earnings blowout.