Agnico-Eagle Mines' CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 27, 2012 8:30 am ET

Executives

Sean Boyd - Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sudbury Contact

Yvon Sylvestre - Senior Vice President of Operations

Jean Robitaille - Senior Vice-President of Technical Services and Project Development

Ammar Al-Joundi - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Finance

Timothy Haldane - Senior Vice President of Latin America Operations

Unknown Executive -

Analysts

Stephen D. Walker - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Greg Barnes - TD Securities Equity Research

Unknown Analyst

Joung Park - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

David Haughton - BMO Capital Markets Canada

Jeffrey Wright - Global Hunter Securities, LLC, Research Division

John Charles Tumazos - John Tumazos Very Independent Research, LLC

Anita Soni - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

John Kratochwil - Canaccord Genuity, Research Division

David Charles Fondrie - Heartland Advisors, Inc.

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Agnico-Eagle Mines Q1 2012 Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would like to remind everyone that this conference call is being recorded today, April 27, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. I'll now turn the conference over to Sean Boyd. Please go ahead, sir.

Sean Boyd

Thank you very much, operator, and good morning everyone, and thanks for joining us. We know it's a busy morning for you. What we'd like to do is take you through a series of slides and talk about our operations this morning. And we've got our full team here in Toronto. Our annual meeting is also this morning in Toronto. So we'll leave some time for some questions.

I'd just like to caution everyone that this presentation includes some forward-looking statements. So there's cautionary language in our presentation, and you can see that on our website. As far as positioning, as we know, we had a difficult year last year with some operating challenges. We've worked hard over the last several months on optimizing our operations. As we move forward, a lot of these newly built mines are getting to the point where they're more mature, and we can see that reflected in the results in the first quarter. So we were extremely pleased that we had contribution from all of our mines. We had strong cash generation. We had some good cost performance. We were able to mine and process more tonnes. And as we move forward, we look to optimize -- continue to optimize those assets. We continue to look for expansion opportunities within the current portfolio. We're working on some of those. We'll talk about those in the presentation. We still have an aggressive exploration program on many of our assets that are large and wide open. We plan to have an update on our exploration activities in June of this year.

One of the topical items now is political risks, and our strategy doesn't change there. We're still very much focused on being at the low end of the political risk spectrum as far as mining goes. And as we look out, we've got a business that can operate generating net free cash flow that will use to maintain a solid dividend, continue our exploration on our programs, reinvest back in some assets to increase our output as we move forward, and we'll also, we anticipate, be able to continue to strengthen our financial position as we did this quarter with a repayment of our debt of about $90 million.

In terms of operating highlights, we did have a strong production quarter at over 250,000 ounces. We had year-over-year production growth from the 5 operating mines of almost 19%. We had record gold production coming out of 2 of our mines in Kittila and also from our operations in Mexico. We had record throughput at Meadowbank over 9,700 tonnes a day, which was a strong performance. And as we indicated at the top of the presentation, that generated an extremely strong cash flow generation with cash provided by operating activities of $196 million.

Specifically on the operating side, as we said, we had contributions with increased output coming out of all 5 of our mines. And that increased output and better performance from all 5 mines more than made up for the lost in gold production from the suspension of operations at Goldex. So it was good to see all mines contributing to make up for that large production. Although we've had a very strong first quarter, it is mining. We're not prepared at this point to change our guidance. So we would just categorize our guidance as very solid and very achievable based on the strong start in Q1 and continued good performance in April of this year.

As far as the financial results, again, strong cash generated of almost $200 million in the quarter with net income of $79 million and earnings of $0.46 per share. So a strong quarter.

As we also talk about mine profits, we did see our operating margins at the mine increase by 21% year-over-year in total, and that's with one less operating mine. So again, as we talked about, good contribution from all mines. On the cost side, we actually -- when you look through all the data, we have 2 mines that are actually producing gold for cost of sub $300 per ounce. So these are quality mines. These mines are a big part of our future and a big part of our strong production base and low-cost structure as we move forward.

Financial position, touched on that. We repaid $90 million in debt. So net debt, a little over $600 million and available credit of almost $1 billion. So we've got a strengthening, strong and strengthening financial position. The way the business is positioned going forward, we anticipate generating strong EBITDA as we grow our production and output over the next few years. Our estimate of capital reinvestment required to grow that output is in the $500 million range, on average, for the next 4 or 5 years. And that would include Meliadine, Kittila expansion, work we're doing in Mexico on the shaft, La India, et cetera. So a business that generates net free cash flow, which as we said, we'll use to pay the dividend, continue to explore these large deposits and look for opportunities to grow output through continuing ongoing investment at these large deposits.

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