05:43:09 EDT Fri 31 Mar 2023
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or Name

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Cameco Corp
Symbol CCO
Shares Issued 398,289,260
Close 2022-02-08 C$ 25.24
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Cameco loses $103-million in 2021, boosts dividend

2022-02-09 07:04 ET - News Release

Mr. Tim Gitzel reports


Cameco Corp. has released its consolidated financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2021, in accordance with international financial reporting standards (IFRS).

"Our results reflect the very deliberate execution of our strategy of full-cycle value capture. We have been undertaking work to ensure we have operational flexibility, we are aligning our production decisions with the market fundamentals and our contracting portfolio, and we have been financially disciplined. Since 2016, with our planned and unplanned production cuts, inventory reduction and market purchases, we have removed more than 190 million pounds of uranium from the market, which we believe has contributed to the security of supply concerns in our industry," said Tim Gitzel, Cameco's president and chief executive officer.

"In alignment with 70 million pounds of additional long-term contracts added to our portfolio since the beginning of 2021 and the improving market sentiment that provides us with leverage to higher prices under our market-related contracts and for our unencumbered productive capacity, we are pleased to announce that it is time for Cameco to proceed with the next phase of our supply discipline decisions. And it is time to reward those who have supported our strategy. We are laying claim to our Tier 1 incumbency advantage as we further position the company to capture the value we expect to come from the growing demand for nuclear energy driven by the increasingly undeniable conclusion that it must be an essential part of the clean-energy transition.

"Our plan in no way represents an end to our supply discipline. What we are contemplating for our supply discipline still represents a much greater reduction than any other producer has made. In fact, we are continuing with indefinite supply discipline. Our plan includes both McArthur River/Key Lake and Cigar Lake operating at less than licensed capacity starting in 2024. We are taking a portfolio approach to our supply discipline. In 2021, we were operating at about 75 per cent below productive capacity (100-per-cent basis), which came at a significant cost to our business. By 2024, we plan to be operating at about 40 per cent below productive capacity (100-per-cent basis). This will remain our production plan until we see further improvements in the uranium market and have made further progress in securing the appropriate homes for our unencumbered, in-ground inventory under long-term contracts, once again demonstrating that we are a responsible supplier of uranium fuel.

"Starting in 2024, it is our plan to produce 15 million pounds per year (100-per-cent basis) at McArthur River/Key Lake, 40 per cent below the annual licensed capacity of the operation. At that time, we plan to reduce production at Cigar Lake to 13.5 million pounds per year (100 per cent basis), 25 per cent below its annual licensed capacity, for a combined reduction of 33 per cent of licensed capacity at the two operations. In addition, we plan to keep our Tier 2 assets on care and maintenance, and production at Inkai will continue to follow the 20-per-cent reduction until the end of 2023 unless Kazatomprom further extends its supply reductions.

"It will take us some time to transition McArthur River/Key Lake from care and maintenance to its planned production capacity as we complete critical automation, digitization and other projects, execute maintenance readiness checks, and achieve sufficient recruitment and training. Until we achieve a reasonable production rate, we expect to incur operational readiness costs, which will be expensed directly to cost of sales. In 2022, we could produce up to five million pounds (100-per-cent basis) depending on our success in completing operational readiness activities and managing the potential risks of the COVID-19 pandemic and related supply chain challenges. We will continue to meet our sales commitments from a combination of lower-cost production, inventory and purchases in order to maximize the value of our sales portfolio. As we ramp up to our 2024 planned production capacity, we expect to see a significant improvement in our earnings and cash flow.

"Our total planned production in 2022 continues to face risks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and related global supply chain disruptions, including at Cigar Lake where we expect to produce 15 million pounds (100-per-cent basis), which is 20 per cent below licensed capacity, and at Inkai in Kazakhstan.

"Thanks to our deliberate actions and conservative financial management we have been and continue to be resilient. With $1.3-billion in cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments on our balance sheet, improving fundamentals for our business and our decision to prepare McArthur River/Key Lake for production, we have line of sight to a significant improvement in our future financial performance. Our strong balance sheet positions us well to self-manage risk, including any global macroeconomic uncertainty and volatility that may arise. Therefore, we are pleased to announce that our board has approved a 50-per-cent increase to our annual dividend for 2022. In December, 2022, we will pay an annual dividend of 12 cents per common share, up from eight cents per common share.

"Our vision of energizing a clean-air world recognizes that we have an important role to play in enabling the vast reductions in greenhouse gas emissions required to accomplish the targets being set by countries and companies around the world to achieve a resilient, net-zero carbon economy. We have operating and idle Tier 1 assets that are licensed, permitted, long lived, are proven reliable and that have expansion capacity. These Tier 1 assets are backed up by idle Tier 2 assets and what we think is the best exploration portfolio that leverages existing infrastructure. We are vertically integrated across the nuclear fuel cycle. We have locked in significant value for the fuel services segment of our business in the recent price transition in the conversion market and we are exploring opportunities to further our reach in the nuclear fuel cycle and in innovative, non-traditional commercial uses of nuclear power in Canada and around the world.

"We are optimistic about Cameco's role in capturing long-term value across the fuel chain and supporting the transition to a net-zero carbon economy. We believe we have the right strategy to achieve our vision and we will do so in a manner that reflects our values. For over 30 years, we have been delivering our products responsibly. Sustainability is at the heart of what we do. Embedded in all our decisions is a commitment to addressing the environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities that we believe will make our business sustainable over the long term."

Summary of Q4 and 2021 results and developments:

  • Fourth quarter net earnings of $11-million; adjusted net earnings of $23-million: Fourth quarter results are driven by normal quarterly variations in contract deliveries and the continued execution of the company's strategy.
  • Annual net loss of $103-million; adjusted net loss of $98-million: Annual results were driven by the continued execution of the company's strategy and the pro-active measures taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • COVID-19 pandemic: The health and safety of the company's workers, their families and their communities continue to be the priority in all the company's plans. As a result of the four-month precautionary production suspension at the company's Cigar Lake operation, in the company's uranium segment the company produced only 6.1 million pounds (the company's share) in 2021, well below the company's committed sales. Additionally, the company incurred $40-million more in care and maintenance costs than those the company had planned for. Partially offsetting these costs was the receipt of about $21-million under the Canada emergency wage subsidy program.
  • Received dividends from JV Inkai: In 2021, the company received dividend payments from JV Inkai totalling $40-million (U.S.). JV Inkai distributes excess cash, net of working capital requirements, to the partners as dividends.
  • Contracting continues in strengthened price environment: In the company's uranium segment, since the beginning of 2021, the company has been successful in adding 70 million pounds to its portfolio of long-term uranium contracts, bringing the total volumes added since 2016 to about 185 million pounds. Nevertheless, the company maintains leverage to higher prices with significant unencumbered future productive capacity and a large and growing pipeline of uranium business under discussion. However, the company is being strategically patient in its discussions to capture as much value as possible in the company's contract portfolio. In addition to the off-market contracting interest, there has been a re-emergence of on-market requests for proposals from utilities looking to secure their future requirements.
  • Strong balance sheet: As of Dec. 31, 2021, the company had $1.3-billion in cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments and $996-million in long-term debt. In addition, the company has a $1-billion undrawn credit facility.
  • Tax dispute: In the fourth quarter the company filed a notice of appeal with the Tax Court of Canada in its dispute with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to have its $777-million in cash and letters of credit returned.
  • Next phase of the company's supply discipline strategy: Continuing to align its production decisions with the market conditions and its long-term contract portfolio, starting in 2024, the company plans for its share of production to be about 45 per cent below its productive capacity. Productive capacity includes licensed capacity at Cigar Lake and McArthur River/Key Lake, and it includes planned production volumes at Rabbit Lake and the company's U.S. operations prior to curtailment in 2016. In addition, at Inkai, the company will continue to follow the 20-per-cent reduction until the end of 2023 as announced by Kazatomprom. This will remain the company's production plan until it sees further improvements in the uranium market and contracting progress, demonstrating that the company continues to be a responsible supplier of uranium fuel.
  • 2022 guidance provided: The company's outlook for 2022 reflects the expenditures necessary to help it achieve its strategy, including the ramp-up to the planned production of 15 million pounds per year (100 per cent basis) at McArthur River/Key Lake by 2024. As in prior years, the company will incur care and maintenance costs for the continuing suspension of its Tier 2 assets, which are expected to be between $50-million and $60-million. The company also expects to incur between $15-million and $17-million per month at McArthur River/Key Lake in operational readiness costs, which will be expensed directly to cost of sales until the company achieves a reasonable production rate. Operational readiness costs include all of the costs associated with care and maintenance in addition to the costs to complete critical projects, perform maintenance readiness checks, and recruit and train sufficient mine and mill personnel before beginning operations:
    • Over the course of 2022 and 2023, the company will undertake all the activities necessary to ramp up at McArthur River/Key Lake to the planned 2024 production. As a result, in 2022, the company could produce up to five million pounds (100-per-cent basis).
    • At Cigar Lake, the company expects production of 15 million pounds (100-per-cent basis) in 2022.
    • The production outlook reflects the expected impact of the delays and deferrals to development work at Cigar Lake in 2021 and the continuing pandemic and supply chain challenges the company is currently experiencing at all its operations.
  • 50-per-cent increase to 2022 dividend announced: As a result of the company's deliberate actions and conservative financial management the company has been and continues to be resilient. With a strong balance sheet, improving fundamentals for its business, a growing contract portfolio and its decision to prepare McArthur River/Key Lake to be operationally ready, the company has line of sight to a significant improvement in its future earnings and cash flow. Therefore, for 2022, the company is increasing its annual dividend. An annual dividend of 12 cents per common share has been declared, payable on Dec. 15, 2022, to shareholders of record on Nov. 30, 2022.
  • Greater focus on technology and its applications: The company continues its focus on innovation and accelerating the adoption of advanced digital and automation technologies to allow it to operate its assets with more flexibility.
  • Clean energy innovation: In 2021, the company increased its interest in Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE) from 24 per cent to 49 per cent and signed a number of non-binding arrangements to explore several areas of cooperation to advance the commercialization and deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Canada and around the world. This furthers the company's commitment to responsibly and sustainably manage its business and increase its contributions to global climate change solutions by exploring other emerging and non-traditional opportunities within the fuel cycle.

                                        CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL RESULTS   
                                     (in millions except where indicated)   
                                                             Three months ended                  Year ended  
Consolidated highlights                                                Dec. 31,                    Dec. 31,
                                                             2021          2020          2021          2020

Revenue                                                      $465          $550        $1,475        $1,800
Gross profit                                                   56           109             2           106
Net earnings (loss) attributable to equity holders             11            80          (103)          (53)
(Loss) per common share (basic)                              0.03          0.20         (0.26)        (0.13)
(Loss) per common share (diluted)                            0.03          0.20         (0.26)        (0.13)
Adjusted net earnings (loss)                                   23            48           (98)          (66)
(Loss) per common share (adjusted and diluted)               0.06          0.12         (0.25)        (0.17)
Cash provided by operations                                    59           257           458            57

The 2021 annual financial statements have been audited; however, the 2020 fourth quarter and 2021 fourth quarter financial information presented is unaudited. You can find a copy of the company's 2021 annual MD&A (management discussion and analysis) and its 2021 audited financial statements on the company's website.

Management's discussion and analysis (MD&A) and financial statements

The 2021 annual MD&A and consolidated financial statements provide a detailed explanation of the company's operating results for the three and 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2021, as compared with the same periods of the past year, and the company's outlook for 2022. This news release should be read in conjunction with these documents, as well as the company's most recent annual information form, all of which are available on the company's website, on SEDAR and on EDGAR.

Conference call

The company invites you to join its fourth quarter conference call on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, at 8 a.m. Eastern Time.

The call will be open to all investors and the media. To join the call, please dial 800-319-4610 (Canada and United States) or 604-638-5340. An operator will put your call through. The slides and a live webcast of the conference call will be available from a link the company's website. See the link on the company's website on the day of the call.

A recorded version of the proceedings will be available:

  • On the company's website shortly after the call;
  • On postview until midnight Eastern Time on March 9, 2022, by calling 800-319-6413 (Canada and U.S.) or 604-638-9010 (pass code 8216).

2022 first quarter report release date

The company plans to announce its 2022 first quarter results before markets open on May 11, 2022.

About Cameco Corp.

Cameco is one of the largest global providers of the uranium fuel needed to energize a clean air world. The company's competitive position is based on its controlling ownership of the world's largest high-grade reserves and low-cost operations. Utilities around the world rely on the company's nuclear fuel products to generate power in safe, reliable, carbon-free nuclear reactors.

We seek Safe Harbor.

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