Will Hecla Earnings Drive Stock to New 52-Week High?

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Hecla Mining Co. (NYSE: HL) reported second-quarter 2016 results before markets opened Thursday. The precious metal miner posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.06 on revenues of $171.3 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported a net loss of $0.07 per share on revenues of $104.2 million. Second-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.05 and $143.25 million in revenues.

Hecla’s silver production totaled 4.2 million ounces in the quarter, up 71% year over year, and gold production rose 41% to 62,965 ounces. The average realized silver price was $17.26 per ounce, up 6% year over year. Gold’s average realized price rose 5% to $1,254 per ounce. Lead and zinc prices were down 16% and 7%, respectively.

Year over year, cash costs fell 32% per ounce of silver and 28% per ounce of gold. Including by-product credits, cash costs per ounce of silver totaled $3.80 and $601 per ounce of gold. In the prior year, silver cash costs came to $5.61 per ounce and $832 per ounce for gold.

Hecla raised its annual production estimate for both silver and gold. The company now expects silver production of 8.3 million ounces, up from 8.1 million, and gold production of 53,000 ounces, up from 52,000. The company also lowered cash costs for silver at its Casa Berardi mine from $5.00 per ounce to $4.75.

Hecla declared a quarterly dividend of $0.0025 per share of common stock and the regular quarterly dividend of $0.875 per share of Series B Cumulative Convertible Preferred Stock. The company’s dividend policy on common stock is driven by the price of silver, and the $17.62 price did not “satisfy the criteria for a larger dividend.”

CEO Phillips S. Baker Jr. said:

Hecla’s industry-leading production growth of 71% for silver and 41% for gold is due to our organic growth acceleration strategy. The result is the highest sales in our history and our second highest adjusted EBITDA. With current prices even higher than the second quarter and continued strong performance from Casa Berardi and San Sebastian, we expect even better results in the future.

The combination of higher production, higher realized prices and lower cash costs drove Hecla’s second-quarter results. The formula is obvious, but how to make it happen can be tricky. Hecla and most other precious metals miners got a boost in the second-quarter, and it appears that the current quarter is going to be at least as good.

The consensus third-quarter estimates call for EPS of $0.06 and revenues of $146.56 million. For the year, analysts are looking for EPS of $0.18 and revenues of $597 million.

Hecla’s shares traded up about 4.7% in Thursday’s premarket at $6.75, slightly above the stock’s 52-week range of $1.45 to $6.73. The consensus target price for the shares was $5.70 before the report.

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