Cameco, Other Uranium Producers, Miss Estimates

Yellowcake, or urania, is a a uranium concentrate powder and an intermediate step in the processing of uranium ores.

In what is becoming a familiar message on Bay Street, uranium producers have been consistently missing top line estimates in their most recent quarterly reports. Earnings have also been disappointing.

Over the past three weeks, Cameco (Stock Profile – TSX:CCO & NYSE:CCJ), Paladin Energy (Stock Profile – TSX:PDN & ASX:PDN), and now Uranium One (Stock Profole – TSX:UUU & OTC:SXRZF) have missed on analysts expectations for calendar third quarter sales.

A weak global economy and slower than expected restarts within the Japanese nuclear industry in the wake of the Fukushima disaster pushed Cameco to cut its long-term production goals.

“We’ve seen the word uncertainty a lot over the past months to describe the state of the nuclear industry and that term has proven to be very accurate,” commented Cameco chief executive Tim Gitzel.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Fraser Phillips rated Cameco Outperform but noted that the weak earnings and cut to the production outlook was a negative for the company.

Along with revising down Cameco’s long-term production, BMO Capital Markets said it recently cut its own outlook for nuclear power and uranium demand.

“With this outlook already baked into forecasts, BMO maintains its Outperform recommendation for Cameco,” wrote analyst Edward Sterck, who had a $29 price target on the company. Shares of Cameco are currently trading at $18.50 on the TSX.

Not only are the producers of Yellowcake missing estimates, there has also been a build up of inventories to record levels: $719 million at Cameco, roughly $215 million at Paladin and $176 million at Uranium One.

“It is unclear if this (build up) is a one-off coincidence – a possibility, as each company maintained guidance for the year – or reflective of other factors that may persist, such as Japanese contract deferrals,” notes Raymond James analyst David Sadowski.

Uranium One announced today that they would shelved their South Zarechnoye, Kazakhstan development project. The company deemed the project to be unattractive in the current soft uranium price environment.

Ux Consulting’s U3O8 spot price is currently $42.50 per pound – down about $10 in the past twelve months.

Mike Luft

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