Prudential Downgrades Inco to 'Sell'

The metals producer said it would reassess its 85%-owned Goro nickel-cobalt project in light of higher-than-expected capital costs

Prudential downgraded Inco (N ) to sell from hold.

Analyst John Tumazos says it's probable that Inco's 85%-owned Goro nickel-cobalt project will either fall through, with Inco losing $700 million in sunk costs, or the company will end up owning 100% of project with capital costs that are $500 million to $570M higher than expected, along with operating costs that are higher than its forecasts.

Tumazos pushed back his projection of first nickel output at Goro by one year, and increased his estimate of depreciation per pound by 50%. Tumazos lowered his 70 cents 2004 earnings per share estimate to 65 cents, and cut the 86 cents 2005 estimate from 37 cents. He also cut his $18 target to $15.

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