Newcrest vows to fight back after a year to forget
Newcrest Mining has vowed to rebuild its reputation after a horror year that culminated in a $5.77 billion loss.
In what could be the biggest loss of the reporting season, Newcrest's bottom line was savaged by the slumping gold price that forced write-downs of more than $6.2 billion worth of assets.
At $451 million, underlying profits were weaker than expected and less than half the amounts reported in 2012 and 2011, ensuring Newcrest shareholders will not be paid a final dividend.
Newcrest's reputation took a battering on several fronts during the 2013 financial year, not least for missing its gold production guidance on several occasions.
But those problems were overshadowed by a disclosure crisis in June, when investors appeared to anticipate a major corporate restructure, prompting claims that market-sensitive information had been released during analyst briefings.
Two reviews of the June incident - one by the corporate regulator ASIC, the other commissioned by Newcrest through Maurice Newman - are still under way, and Newcrest chief executive Greg Robinson said there was "nothing more important" in the 2014 financial year than restoring the company's reputation.
"I think the principal reputation piece is bringing back Newcrest's reputation as delivering against the public objectives that it sets for the business," he said about meeting gold production targets.
"Naturally there is reputational damage about the other issues [the disclosure crisis] and in the fullness of time the corrective actions around those will be apparent."
Asked if the company was operating differently in light of the disclosure scandal, chief financial officer Gerard Bond said: "It's fair to say we are a little more circumspect."
The company has moved investor relations boss Steve Warner back from New York to Melbourne, but that is linked to the decision to axe Newcrest's Toronto listing, which was set up just 18 months ago but was canned because of severe illiquidity.
Mr Robinson said that despite being ravaged by gold fluctuations in 2013, Newcrest would not hedge against the gold price in future.
"Our investors ... are looking for spot-price exposure, and what we do to manage that," he said.
After curtailing its highest-cost mines and spending $1 billion on capital projects in 2014, the company expects to break even as long as the gold price remains above $1450 an ounce.
Monday's gold price of $US1332 an ounce translates to $1447 an ounce in the local currency, meaning Newcrest will need a higher gold price to be cash-flow positive.
It expects to produce between 2 million and 2.3 million ounces of gold in the 2014 financial year.
Most gold stocks rose strongly on Monday, with Newcrest rising 91¢ to close at $12.39.