By Julie Gordon
TORONTO (Reuters) - By adding Andean Resources to its growing bundle of acquisitions,Canada's Goldcorp will put itself in a solid position toachieve its goal of doubling bullion production by 2018.
Through its aggressiveness, Goldcorp has grown from ajunior miner with revenues of $70 million in 2000 to theworld's No. 2 gold company by market capitalization, with 2009annual revenue of more than $2.7 billion.
Its gold production has doubled from 1.15 million ounces in2005 to 2.4 million ounces in 2009, with gold reserves morethan tripling in the same five years.
"This is a market that pays for growth," said Dundee WealthManagement analyst Paul Burchell. "Gold companies that candemonstrate to shareholders that they have the better growthprofile with high-quality assets are the ones that are rewardedthe highest premiums."
Goldcorp, known for its energetic acquisition strategy, onFriday agreed to buy Argentina-focused Andean Resources forC$3.6 billion ($3.4 billion) in cash and shares, beating out arival bid by Eldorado Gold.
In February, the Vancouver-based company bought Canplatsfor C$306.6 million ($294.8 million). That same month, Goldcorppurchased a 70 percent interest in the El Morro copper-goldproject in north-central Chile for about $513 million.
With the Andean Resources deal, Goldcorp will get a 100percent stake in the Cerro Negro gold project in the southernArgentine province of Santa Cruz.
The project is slated to begin production in late 2012 andhas indicated resources of 2.54 million ounces of gold.
Goldcorp CEO Chuck Jeannes said that while the company hadfollowed the project for two years, it was recent drilling inthe Mariana Central zone that had prompted the deal.
"We aren't buying Andean for a 3 million ounce resource,"he said in an interview with Reuters. "We wouldn't be surprisedto see the indicated resource double in fairly short order."
But Maison Placements analyst John Ing said Goldcorp mayhave been a bit too ambitious in the premium they were willingto pay for Andean, when the actual size of the additional golddeposits is not yet known.
"I think that by paying $1,200 an ounce, they are making abig bet that there could be a doubling or tripling of ounces,"said Ing. "And while that is a possibility, only God knowswhat's in the ground.
Betting big has paid off for Jeannes, who took over thecompany when former CEO Kevin McArthur retired.
In his 20 months as CEO, Jeannes has focused on a strategyof upgrading Goldcorp's portfolio by offloading non-core assetsand investing in assets he sees as key to the future of thecompany.
Cerro Negro "will be core for our company for a long timeto come," he said. "We just aren't finding that many new,high-quality gold deposits out there, which is one of thereasons why multiple parties were interested in this one." ($1= $1.04 Canadian) (Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Frank McGurty)