Cameco announces 2023 results; strategically positioned to increase tier-one production as security of supply contracting cycle advances; maintaining disciplined financial management and growth; improving Westinghouse outlook
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, February 8, 2024
Cameco (TSX: CCO; NYSE: CCJ) today reported its consolidated financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2023, in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
“Our 2023 financial performance benefitted from higher sales volumes and realized prices in our uranium and fuel services segments. Our net earnings, adjusted net earnings, and cash from operations all more than doubled compared to 2022, with adjusted EBITDA up 93%. In 2024, we expect strong financial performance as we begin to realize the benefits from our investment in Westinghouse. We plan to continue to transition to our tier-one cost structure and make the capital and other expenditures we believe are necessary to position the company for continued sustainable growth. Growth that will be sought in the same manner as we approach all aspects of our business; strategic, deliberate, disciplined, and with a focus on generating full-cycle value,” said Tim Gitzel, Cameco’s president and CEO.
“Heightened geopolitical uncertainty, global production shortfalls, and transportation challenges in 2023 further highlighted the growing security of supply risk at a time when we believe the demand outlook is stronger and more durable than ever. The benefits of nuclear power have come clearly into focus, with 28 countries around the world declaring support for the tripling of capacity to help achieve global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The uncertainty about where nuclear fuel supplies will come from to satisfy growing demand has led to increased long-term contracting activity, and in 2023, about 160 million pounds of uranium was placed under long-term contracts by utilities. Prices across the nuclear fuel cycle continued to rise. Spot enrichment prices are up 38% and conversion prices continue to achieve record highs. Uranium spot prices have more than doubled from around $48 (US) per pound at the end of 2022 to $100 (US) per pound at the end of January 2024, after peaking at $106 (US) per pound earlier in the month, and the long-term price for uranium was $72 (US) per pound, an increase of about 38% over the same period.
“We continue to believe that Cameco remains an excellent opportunity to invest in the recovery of the nuclear fuel cycle. We have 35 years of experience in this market and have built a strong reputation as a proven and reliable supplier with a diversified production portfolio that provides us with the flexibility to work with our customers to ensure they maintain access to our reliable supplies to satisfy their ongoing fuel requirements. We have designed our strategy of full-cycle value capture to be resilient. We have multiple supply options, including production, purchases, inventory and loans we can draw on to help ensure we continue to meet our delivery commitments to our customers. Given the nature of our contracts, we have good visibility into when and where we need to deliver material, and we have put in place a number of tools that allow us to self-manage risk.
“We continue to have success gaining and preserving exposure to the improving market fundamentals under long-term contracts that will underpin the sustainable operation of our assets. In our uranium segment, our contracting focus has been on obtaining market-related pricing mechanisms, while also providing adequate downside protection. We continue to be strategically patient in our discussions to maximize value in our contract portfolio and to maintain exposure to higher prices with unencumbered future productive capacity.
“With ongoing improvements in the market, the new long-term contracts we have put in place and our pipeline of contracting discussions, we are planning to produce 18 million pounds (100% basis) at each of McArthur River/Key Lake and Cigar Lake in 2024. We have also converted 73.4 million pounds (100% basis) (40 million pounds our share) of resources to reserves at Cigar Lake, and plan to begin the work necessary to extend the estimated mine life to 2036. At McArthur River/Key Lake, we will undertake an evaluation of the work and investment necessary to expand production up to its annual licensed capacity of 25 million pounds (100% basis), which we expect will allow us to take advantage of this opportunity when the time is right.
“We are excited to have added a 49% interest in Westinghouse to our portfolio of investments in 2023. We believe Westinghouse is well-positioned for long-term growth driven by the expected increase in global demand for nuclear power. In 2024, we expect our share of its adjusted EBITDA to be between $445 million and $510 million. Further, over the next five years, we expect its adjusted EBITDA will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6% to 10%.
“Thanks to the disciplined execution of our strategy, including our conservative financial management, our balance sheet remains strong. We expect it will enable us to continue executing our strategy and self-managing risk, including risks related to global macro-economic uncertainty and volatility. As of December 31, 2023, we had $567 million in cash and cash equivalents with approximately $1.8 billion in total debt. And, we recently initiated a partial repayment of $200 million (US) on the $600 million (US) floating-rate term loan that was used to finance the acquisition of Westinghouse. Our $1.0 billion credit facility continues to be undrawn.
“With the renewed recognition of the role nuclear power must play in providing clean and secure baseload power, we are optimistic about Cameco’s role in supporting the transition to a net-zero carbon economy. We have a plan to achieve a 30% absolute reduction from our total Scope 1 and 2 emissions level by 2030 from our 2015 baseline, which is the first major milestone on the journey to achieve our ambition of being net-zero. We believe our largest contribution to the net-zero transition comes from the uranium, nuclear fuel, services and technology that we supply to support the generation of nuclear power – 100% carbon-free electricity. Recently, we put further support behind our commitment to climate action and our vision of energizing a clean-air world by joining Net Zero Nuclear, an initiative between government, industry leaders and civil society to triple global nuclear capacity to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
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