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Wed, Apr 14, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Alcoa Inc narrows Q1 loss, foresees improving demand

AP , DENVER, COLORADO

Alcoa Inc opened the earnings season with a narrower first-quarter loss as demand for some aluminum products picked up from a year ago and prices rose.

For the quarter that ended on March 31, Alcoa on Monday reported a net loss of US$201 million or US$0.20 per share.

That compared with a net loss of US$497 million, or US$0.61 a share, a year ago, when the company struggled with weak demand in the depths of the recession.

Alcoa’s first-quarter results include US$295 million, or US$0.29 a share, in one-time charges related to the health care reform law and the closing of two smelters.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast, on average, earnings of US$0.10 a share. They typically exclude one-time items.

Revenue rose nearly 20 percent to US$4.9 billion. That missed Wall Street’s estimate of US$5.24 billion.

“2010 will clearly be better than 2009, but it’s going to be below historic norms in many of the markets,” president and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld told analysts in a conference call.

Kleinfeld expects Alcoa to benefit from a rebound in global automotive production this year, while the company’s packaging business for cans and other containers remains flat.

Kleinfeld says aluminum consumption worldwide should grow by 10 percent this year, driven strongly by demand from China and improving demand in the US and Europe.

Argus Research analyst Bill Selesky described the quarter as lackluster.

“All the year-over-year numbers look very good. However, the sequential results are somewhat lagging. Sales from the fourth quarter to the first quarter, the overall demand is down 11 percent,” he said.

Alcoa, based in Pittsburgh, is the first company in the Dow Jones Industrial average to issue earnings results, and investors will be eyeing earnings results this week from Intel, Google, General Electric, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.

In New York yesterday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 11,000 for the first time in a year and a half.

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