Thu, 27 Apr 2000

Inco earning up 1st quarter increases

JAKARTA (JP): Publicly-listed PT International Nickel Indonesia (Inco) announced on Wednesday unaudited net earnings of $18.1 million in the first quarter of 2000, or seven cents per share, compared to a loss of $2.1 million (one cent per share) a year earlier.

The nickel mining company with operations in Soroako, South Sulawesi, made a $17.8 million net profit (seven cents per share) in the last quarter of 1999.

The company in a statement attributed the rise during the first quarter of 2000 to higher nickel prices, which was partially offset by lower deliveries, higher fuel prices, and an increase of interest expenses to finance Inco's expansion project.

Inco president and chief executive officer (CEO) Rumengan Musu said the results reflected stronger nickel prices and that Inco's recently expanded facilities were beginning to show benefits.

"We remained cash positive even after making the first of our thirteen scheduled repayments on our long-term debt," he said.

The company's realized price for nickel-in-matte averaged $6,775 per ton in the first quarter of 2000, compared to $3,401 a year earlier and $5,826 in the fourth quarter of 1999.

Nickel-in-matte output between January and March reached 13,600 tons against 10,400 tons a year earlier and 14,200 tons in the fourth quarter of 1999.

Production in the first quarter of 2000 was curtailed because of a landslide in a slag disposal area and a bearing failure in one of the original reduction kilns, the company said. (10)