Gold Giant Barrick Faces Grilling After Fall to Bottom of Pack – by Daniel Bochove (February 12, 2018)

Barrick Gold Corp. executives will have some explaining to do when the company releases full-year results Wednesday.

Even with rising gold prices and a strengthened balance sheet, the world’s largest gold producer left shareholders with the worst returns among its top North American peers last year and the third-worst performance in the 15-company BI Global Senior Gold Valuation Peers index.

That’s a sharp reversal of the heady gains a year earlier when the Toronto-based company appeared unable to put a foot wrong. In 2016, Barrick’s Canadian shares soared 110 percent as it unveiled a sweeping plan to streamline the company. That same year its biggest rival, Newmont Mining Corp., rose 89 percent.

Notwithstanding the recent global stock rout that has sunk equities globally, Colorado-based Newmont’s shares have gained, while Barrick has stumbled.

The widening gap between the two companies can partly be explained by what appear, at least, to be diverging strategies. While Newmont executives have increasingly talked about growth, Barrick has spoken more about margin improvements and debt reduction through cost cuts, asset sales and transforming its portfolio through digitization.

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