Cameco optimistic despite changes to market
Cameco is still feeling aftershocks from the earthquake in Japan last year.
Cameco President and CEO Tim Gitzel began the annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday with a Chinese proverb.
“Shall you live in interesting times,” he said.
Gitzel said that Cameco is certainly in those times.
The company boasted record revenue and gross profit in both nuclear and uranium projects. It saw $1.2 billion in cash and short-term investments and $732 million cash provided by operations.
The Japanese earthquake, that destroyed the nuclear reactor in Fukushima left uncertainty in the market.
Some countries are wary about nuclear energy, with Germany announcing a plan to move away from nuclear energy.
“Some of the repercussions since then have been a questioning of the role of nuclear going forward … this has had an effect on the industry and on uranium demand in the short term, as well as on Cameco’s share price,” Gitzel said.
The return on the shareholder’s equity went from 11.3 per cent in 2010 to 9.4 per cent to 2011.
“The one thing I can’t control is the share price,” Gitzel said.
He said that many factors made him optimistic that the market would return.
The Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) agreement where the Russians decommissioned nuclear war resulting in a large amount of uranium in the market is coming to an end next year.
Cameco has also increased business with China. In 2010 the company signed two contracts for 50 million pounds of Uranium sales that will continue for 10 to 15 years.
Japan’s central government has deemed two reactors safe. The company, Kansai Electric Power is waiting on local approval to move ahead.
“Japan restarting its fleet … the Chinese continuing to build their fleets up … the HEU agreement … that’s where we see a spot for Cameco to increase its production to fill that gap,” Gitzel said.
The gap will be filled by an increase in production. Gitzel said that Cameco expects to produce 40 million pounds of uranium by 2018.
“In our business we sell long term … we’ve sold most of our uranium forward for the next five years,” he said.
He said they project 96 net new reactors by 2021 and they are hopeful it will lead to a stabilizing market price.