(Bloomberg) — At first glance, Barrick Gold Corp.’s best day in the stock market in almost five months seems all about production: the world’s No. 2 producer churned out more bullion than analysts expected.

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But a closer look at fourth-quarter results reveals another strong earnings indicator, with the Toronto-based producer managing to bring down costs in an otherwise inflationary environment.

In a preliminary production and sales report Wednesday, Barrick said its all-in sustaining costs per ounce of gold probably were 4%-6% lower in the fourth quarter than the third. In the July-September period, that same metric was well up from a year earlier but down slightly from the second quarter and below the average estimate.

While Wednesday’s statement didn’t offer reasons for cost declines, it appears Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow is continuing to cope better than his peers with tight labor markets and pricier freight, energy and other inputs amid ongoing supply-chain snarls.

Barrick may still be unlocking savings following its takeover of Randgold, and Bristow likes to tout efforts to mitigate pricing and cost pressures such as migrating to a younger workforce and his paranoid approach to managing complex shipping lines.

Surging metal prices were another reason for Barrick’s 5.3% share price jump in New York on Wednesday.

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