Goldcorp Inc. said Thursday its quarterly earnings surged due to higher gold and silver prices and increased bullion production.
Vancouver-based Goldcorp, the world's second-largest gold miner by market capitalization, also raised its full-year dividend payout by 11 per cent to 40 cents (U.S.) a share and outlined plans to develop two major gold projects in Canada.
Goldcorp said its profit in the quarter ended Dec. 31 rose to $331.8-million, or 44 cents a share, from a year-earlier profit of $66.7-million, or 9 cents a share.
Excluding one-time items, quarterly profit rose to $417.1-million or 57 cents a share, from $182.7-million or 25 cents, a year earlier.
Gold sales in the fourth quarter were 678,600 ounces on production of 689,600 ounces. This compares with sales of 573,100 ounces on production of 601,300 ounces in the fourth quarter of 2009.
The company said a strong performance at its Red Lake mine in Northern Ontario and the first full quarter of commercial production at its Penasquito gold-silver mine in Mexico, helped drive production growth in the quarter.
Quarterly revenue rose 70 per cent to $1.32-billion.
Goldcorp also said its board has approved the full-scale development of the Eleonore project in Quebec and the Cochenour project in Ontario. The two projects are due to come online toward the end of 2014.
The company, which has more than doubled its output from the 1.15 million ounces of gold it produced in 2005, expects to produce between 2.65 million and 2.75 million ounces this year. It sees production climbing to four million ounces by 2015.
Goldcorp has pursued aggressive growth in recent years. In September, it agreed to buy Argentina-focused gold miner Andean Resources for $3.6-billion (Canadian), trumping a competing offer from fellow Canadian miner Eldorado Gold Corp.
Last February, among other acquisitions, Goldcorp bought a 70-per-cent interest in the El Morro copper-gold project in north-central Chile for about $513-million, outmanoeuvring Barrick Gold, which also tried to buy the asset.
Earlier this month, Goldcorp said that, as of the end of 2010, its proven and probable gold reserves increased by 23 per cent from a year earlier to 60.1 million ounces. Resources in the measured and indicated category rose 13 per cent to 25.7 million ounces.
The company also has one of the largest silver holdings in the sector, with proven and probable silver reserves of 1.3 billion ounces and measured and indicated silver resources of 457.6 million ounces.
Both gold and silver are currently trading near record levels, with spot gold at $1,402.45 an ounce and spot silver at $32.15 an ounce.
Shares of Goldcorp rose more than 2 per cent to $46.16 after the closing bell following release of the results.