Uranium miner Cameco (TSX:CCO) said Tuesday it earned $131-million in its latest quarter, boosted by the sale of its stake in Bruce Power Limited Partnership.
The company said the profit amounted to 33 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31, compared with a profit of $9-million or two cents per diluted share a year ago.
Revenue slipped to $419-million from $444-million in the first three months of 2013.
Excluding one-time items, including the $127-million from the sale of Cameco’s stake in the Ontario-based Bruce Power nuclear facility, the company said it earned $36-million or nine cents per share compared with $27-million or seven cents per diluted share a year ago.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of 10 cents per share and revenue of nearly $473-million, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.
Shares in Cameco fell $1.08 or about four per cent to $23.05 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Cameco said the increase in its adjusted results compared with a year ago was mainly due to higher sales volumes of uranium and higher realized prices, fees it paid due to the cancellation of its toll conversion agreement with Springfields Fuels Ltd. (SFL), which was to expire in 2016.
Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel said the company’s operations performed well, highlighted by the start of production at its Cigar Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan.
“As an industry, we saw positive signs in Japan, where a new energy policy confirmed that nuclear power will remain an important source of energy,” Gitzel said in a statement.
“However, that news did not change our view of the current market, where excess supply and discretionary demand for uranium products has resulted in further downward pressure on the uranium price.”
During the quarter, Cameco produced 5.7 million pounds of uranium and sold 6.9 million pounds. That compared with production of 5.9 million pounds and sales of 5.1 million pounds in the same quarter last year.
The company’s average realized price increased to $50.58 per pound compared with $48.25 a year ago, boosted by a weaker Canadian dollar.
In its outlook, Cameco raised its expectations for revenue growth for 2014 to between five and 10 per cent based on a forecast for a weaker Canadian dollar than earlier expected.
The uranium miner had earlier expected revenue growth between zero and five per cent for the year.
Last month, Cameco began ore production at its long-delayed Cigar Lake uranium mine.
The mine – a partnership with French nuclear giant Areva – first encountered underground flooding in 2006. Crews were able to safely re-enter the mine’s main working level almost a half-kilometre underground in 2010 once water was pumped out.
But the mine was further delayed last year to repair a leaking tank.
Between Cameco and Areva, the cost of the Cigar Lake mine came in at $2.6-billion.
The McClean Lake mill, operated by Areva, is expected to begin processing the ore to uranium concentrate by the end of the second quarter and produce between two million and three million pounds of uranium concentrate this year. It expects to ramp up to its full production rate of 18 million pounds by 2018.
The McClean Lake joint venture is 70 per cent owned and operated by Areva. The other McClean Lake joint venture partners are Denison Mines Corp. (TSX:DML), 22.5 per cent and OURD (Canada) Co. Ltd., 7.5 per cent.