Southern Copper's CEO Discusses Q3 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Southern Copper Corporation ( SCCO)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 31, 2011 12:00 pm ET

Executives

Raul Jacob - CFO, Peruvian Operations and IR

Analysts

Lewis Ranieri - Barclays Capital

Rene Kleyweg - UBS

Martin Pradier - AGF

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to the Southern Copper Corporation's Third Quarter 2011 Results Conference Call. With us this morning, we have Southern Copper Corporation's Mr. Raul Jacob, CFO of the Peruvian Operations and SCC’s Investor Relations, who will discuss the results of the company for the third quarter and answer any questions that you might have.

The information discussed on today's call may include forward-looking statements regarding the company's results and prospects which are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially, and the company cautions to not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

The Southern Copper Corporation undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. All results are expressed in full US GAAP.

Now, I will pass the call on to Mr. Raul Jacob.

Raul Jacob

Thank you very much, Sarah and good morning, everyone and welcome to Southern Copper's third quarter’s earnings conference call.

On today's conference call, we will begin by an update of our view on the metal markets. We will then talk about Southern Copper's key results related to production, sales, operating costs, financial results and capital spending program. After that, we will open the session for questions.

Speaking about the metal markets and prices, during the third quarter metal markets have been affected by negative macroeconomic events that are delaying the recovery of the metal demand. The most important of which are the following. The continuing weakness of the US economic recovery, the high end employment and the stock market volatility in this market has created concerns in the rest of the world regarding the world economy recovery.

The evolution of the European debt crisis, Europe represents nowadays 28% of the world economy and it is affecting the confidence of investors in the euro and the economic stability of this region. The impact of the mentioned events, the export-oriented emerging economies particularly China which according to CRU represents 36% of the world’s copper demand, any concern about the recovery of the world economy effects the basic metals demand and financial investment in them.

Moving to our specific market, the copper market, copper represented in the past quarter 77% of Southern Copper sales. Even though we believe copper demand is being affected by the negative macroeconomic outlook, we will maintain our positive view on these metals fundamentals. Several sources as well as our commercial intelligence estimate that the copper destocking process is coming to an end in key markets and inventories of copper in process are tight particularly in Asia.

This should support demand growth for the next twelve months, demand growth now is estimated at 2% for the next twelve months by CRU. On the supply side, production has underperformed badly in the third quarter due to labor unrest, adverse weather and ore grade declines. We consider that these events are likely to continue in the fourth quarter of the year and in 2012, maintaining the tight copper market. Currently CRU estimates a market deficit of 300,000 tons for both this year and 2012.

Regarding silver which represented 8% of our sales in the third quarter and is currently our main by-product, its prices average $38.76 per ounce in the third quarter, pretty much of the same level as in the second quarter of this year. We believe that silver prices will have a strong support in the next twelve months due to its industrial uses as well as being perceived as a value shelter for economic concerns. Speaking about molybdenum, in the third quarter of this year this metal represented 7% of company sales.

We are currently seeing a surplus in the molybdenum market that has affected molybdenum prices through the third quarter. As a consequence, the average market price decreased from $16.50 per ton in the second quarter to $14.44 in the third quarter of this year, a 12.5% decrease in price. The demand for molybdenum has been affected by lower than expected the stainless steel demands in the U.S. and China as well as a weak recovery in Japan’s car production. We believe these are short-term events and expect a rebound in the sales in 2012.

Moving into copper production for the year and for Southern Copper, copper mine production in the third quarter increase by 24.4% to a 155,789 tons compared to a 125,192 tons in the third quarter of 2010. This increase was mainly the result of 44,876 tons of higher production at our Buenavista mine which restored full capacity production in the second quarter. Anodes, cathodes and rod production increased by 82%, 62%, and 82.2% respectively, in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period of 2010. Rod production increased due to higher demand, allowing the company to earn copper premiums over the spot prices. Comparing to past quarter with the second quarter of 2011, we had an increase in production of 9,448 tons or 6.5%.

Moving into silver production, it increased by 3.4 in the third quarter of this year to 3.3 million ounces from 3.1 million ounces in the third quarter of 2010 and by 1.7% from the 3.2 million ounces we had in the past quarter, in the second quarter of this year. These increases were, principally, the result of higher production at the Buenavista mine, partially offset by lower production at the Cuajone mine.

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