Gold Fields Ltd., the fourth-largest producer of the metal, more than doubled its dividend for last year after benefiting from higher sale prices in rand.
The 3.30 rand (43 U.S. cents) a share payout is “the highest dividend yield in the gold industry globally,” Chief Executive Officer Nick Holland told Bloomberg Television today. Gold Fields will keep its policy of paying out half of earnings after growth capital is deducted, Chief Financial Officer Paul Schmidt said in a separate Johannesburg presentation.
The shares closed little changed at 125.98 rand in Johannesburg, valuing it at 91.3 billion rand.
“Dividend policy has been well-accepted by the market,” said David Davis, an SBG Securities analyst. “I’ll be paying attention to their growth pipeline and how it’s funded.”
Gold Fields, which mined about half its 3.49 million ounces of 2011 output in South Africa, targets 5 million ounces a year in production or development by 2015. It’s growing in Peru and Australia and plans mines in Mali, Finland and the Philippines.
The company reported fourth-quarter earnings excluding one-time items rose to 2.65 billion rand, or 3.68 rand a share, from 2.11 billion rand, or 2.91 rand, in the previous three months, according to a statement today. The median of five analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg was 3.62 rand a share.
Gold Fields expects to complete a pre-feasibility study for Ghana’s Damang Super-pit project, due to add as much as 500,000 ounces a year, in the second half of 2012, Holland said. It’s “cautiously optimistic” the government and miners will reach a “win-win situation” on taxes to sustain the industry, he said.
The company will exercise an option this year to buy 60 percent of the Far Southeast project, an undeveloped gold and copper deposit in the Philippines, for $220 million, it said.
South African gold producers benefited from a 12 percent jump in the average local price of the metal in the fourth quarter from the previous three months as the rand fell against the dollar. Producers gain from a weaker rand because they sell much of their output in dollars and pay most costs in rand.
Analysts who track South African gold producers measure quarter-on-quarter earnings excluding one-time items.