Stillwater Mining Co. reports $18 million profit for third quarter, but falls short of expectations

November 6, 2014

Stillwater Mining Co. reported a profit of $18.1 million profit, 14 cents per share, for the third quarter, driven by cost reductions and efficiencies, officials said. However, that fell short of the expected return of 17 cents per share according to an analysis by Zacks Investment Research.

In a conference call with investors, Stillwater CEO Mick McMullen said the company has cut its total workforce by 7 percent from January through September. Stillwater now has 1,641 workers, down from 1,773 on Jan. 1, he said. Labor is one of the company’s largest expenses, The Billings Gazette reported.

The cutbacks have been made through a combination of layoffs, buyouts and attrition, McMullen said. They include this spring’s buyouts of 35 union workers and layoffs of 48 salaried administrative workers.

The reductions are part of the company’s ongoing strategy to reduce its costs per mined ounce of palladium and platinum. The company reported a cost of $805/oz during the first nine months of this year, a 3.9 percent reduction from 2013. Costs were $837/oz for the third quarter.
The company posted total revenue of $252.1 million for the quarter.

McMullen has stated he hopes to further reduce per-ounce costs by $100 in the next two years.

“This company is not focused on producing ounces for the sake of producing ounces. We’re setting this company up for the future,” he said.

Stillwater also cut corporate overhead costs 9 percent to $10.7 million in the third quarter.

Stillwater stock traded between $11.81 and $12.80 Wednesday following the news, down about 10 percent from Tuesday’s close. Shares had risen about 7 percent since January before this most recent report.

Stillwater is Montana’s largest mining company, operating two palladium and platinum mines in the Beartooth valley and a smelter and recycling facility in Columbus. The precious metals are used to make electronics, jewelry, fuel cells, coins and other products.

The chairman of Stillwater’s board is former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who led a successful hostile takeover last year.

Stillwater produced 123,000/oz of platinum and palladium in the third quarter, a 1 percent drop from the same time last year.

The company is also scaling back its Canadian Marathon PGM copper project and copper and gold prospecting in Argentina.

McMullen noted that prices for platinum palladium dropped during the quarter, largely because of a strengthening U.S. dollar and improving political conditions for foreign competitors in Russia and South Africa.

 

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