Newcrest slumps to $5.7bn FY loss

Gold miner sinks into red on $6.23bn in writedowns, will slash capex in current year.

Newcrest Mining (NCM) will slash capital expenditure after slumping to a $5.78 billion full-year loss as its shock writedowns blew out again to $6.23 billion.

Investors responded well to the results. At the 1015 AEST official market open, Newcrest shares were 4.79% higher at $12.03, against a benchmark index fall of 0.07%.

The miner blamed the slump from the prior year's profit of $1.117 billion on a severe fall in the gold price.

The gold miner's underlying profit fell to $451 million for the year to June, from $1.084 billion in the previous corresponding period.

Newcrest's writedowns ballooned by a further $230 million to $6.229 billion, after it advised the market on Thursday they had increased to $6.2 billion.

The $6.229 billion writedowns included impairments of $5.556 million, asset write-downs of $349 million, a write-down of its investment in Evolution Mining (CAH) of $273 million and restructure costs of $51 million after tax (see Tim Treadgold's Digging down into the Newcrest cave-in).

Newcrest said it would cut capital expenditure to about $1 billion, from the $1.946 billion spent in 2012-13, a 24% drop on the $2.556 million posted in the prior year.

The group also posted a 15% drop in revenue to $3.775 billion to the prior year, on reduced gold sales volumes and lower metal prices.

Gold revenue dropped 16% to $3.149 billion, from $3.74 billion in the previous corresponding period, mainly on a 12% reduction in gold sales volumes to 2,054,923 ounces.

The company said it expected to be free cash flow positive in 2014 at a gold price of A$1,450 per ounce and aimed to fund all capital expenditure, exploration programs and corporate overheads from operating cash flow.

Newcrest said a low level of gearing was not "appropriate" for an unhedged gold producer and it will focus on "progressively reducing gearing to the target level of around 15%, and returning to paying dividends".

Newcrest will not pay a final dividend.

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