Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s largest gold mining company, said first-half profit more than doubled after the purchase of Lihir Gold Ltd. and a surge in prices.
Net income was A$438 million ($437 million) in the six months ended Dec. 31, compared with A$176 million a year earlier, the Melbourne-based company said today in a statement. This was less than the A$457 million mean of four analyst estimates surveyed by Bloomberg.
Gold recorded a 10th straight annual gain in 2010 as concern about rising inflation and currency debasement spurred investors to seek the metal as a store of value. Sales from Newcrest’s mines in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and West Africa rose 66 percent to A$1.97 billion.
Greg Robinson, Newcrest’s executive director finance, will succeed retiring Chief Executive Officer Ian Smith from July 1, the company said in a separate statement.
Newcrest will hold a board meeting in April, which will discuss the company’s geographical focus as well as assessing the potential to trade its shares in North America, Asia and Europe, Robinson said during presentation calls.
Newcrest shares dropped 1.4 percent to A$37.16 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trade in Sydney, trimming gains over the past twelve months to 15 percent. Newcrest doubled its first-half dividend to 10 cents a share.
The company’s was “happy with” its assets in West Africa, including the Bonikro mine in Ivory Coast, which it acquired with the Lihir takeover, Robinson said. “Clearly our focus during the transaction was on Lihir Island, but we’re happy with our assets in West Africa,” Robinson told reporters during a media call.
The change in leadership came at a “natural point” after achieving of a number of strategic goals, including the takeover of Lihir, Chairman Don Mercer said.
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