In an unofficial opening to the earnings season, Alcoa Inc reported another quarterly loss, but beat Wall Street expectations and said some markets for the metal may be stabilizing.
The Pittsburgh-based company’s loss amounted to US$0.47 per share for the three months ended last month. During the same period last year, Alcoa — the largest US aluminum producer — earned US$546 million, or US$0.66 per share.
Alcoa’s loss from continuing operations in the latest quarter was US$312 million, or US$0.32 per share. Excluding restructuring charges, that loss would have been US$0.26 per share.
Revenue tumbled 41 percent to US$4.24 billion.
The aluminum giant’s loss of US$454 million was narrower than analysts expected, and company executives attributed that outcome to recent efforts to slash costs and raise cash. They said some aluminum markets showed signs of improvement, but reiterated a forecast that worldwide aluminum consumption will shrink 7 percent this year amid the global recession.
It was the company’s third straight quarterly loss and fresh evidence of slumping orders from key customers in the aerospace, automotive, commercial transportation and construction industries.
Alcoa and other aluminum makers have struggled since last year with sharply lower orders for the metal used in products ranging from beer cans to jumbo jets.
The anemic demand has driven up stockpiles and depressed prices of the metal, and many aluminum makers have responded by curbing production. Analysts say demand is picking up, but excess supplies will keep prices relatively low in the months ahead.
Alcoa, the first of the Dow Jones Industrial Average companies to post results and a bellwether of industrial health, has scaled back its production by about 20 percent. It has undertaken a campaign to cut costs and raise cash, announcing 13,500 job cuts and the planned sale of four business units earlier this year.