Bullion giant Barrick Gold Corp. pleasantly surprised the market by raising its dividend 25 per cent. Will the move portend a new era of largess from the normally tightfisted gold miners?
There are certainly reasons for investors to be hopeful. Producers have been striving to cut costs and consolidate operations, while the price of gold has climbed over 20 per cent in the past year to hover around US$1,500 an ounce. Barrick’s move Wednesday was echoed a few hours later when Canadian rival Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. raised its quarterly payout 50 per cent. B2Gold Corp. preceded both by announcing its first-ever dividend a day earlier.
“The companies are positioned to start to pay dividends and give more back to shareholders,” Joe Foster, a portfolio manager and strategist at VanEck, said by phone Wednesday.
“It happens to coincide with the rising gold price, so you’re getting to see more aggressive moves on the dividends front than we would have seen if gold was US$100 or US$200 lower.”
Gold miners trimmed costs following the sharp decline of the metal’s price toward the start of the decade. Barrick and B2Gold are both expecting costs this year to come in at or below the lower end of company guidance.