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Alcoa Posts Another 'Noisy' Quarter

Stocks in this article: AA

PITTSBURGH ( TheStreet) -- Alcoa (AA) posted another noisy quarter, filled with charges and other items, but the results were ultimately humdrum, meeting analysts' profit expectations.

Including restructuring charges to pay for the shutdown of two smelters, along with other items, Alcoa posted a loss of $201 million, or 20 cents a share, for the first quarter. Stripping out the charges brought the company's earnings into the black, at 10 cents a share, even with the consensus estimate among sell side analysts, as compiled by Thomson Reuters.

A year ago, Alcoa recorded a loss of $497 million, or 59 cents a share.

Revenue in the just-ended quarter amounted to $4.9 billion, Alcoa said, better than the year-ago figure of $4.15 billion, but worse than the $5.24 billion that analysts were expecting.

As expected, the company saw sequential improvement in sales in its alumina and primary metals segments, gains that mostly derived from the modestly strengthening price of its core product on the commodities exchanges.

Alcoa's downstream business continued to drag, however. Sales volumes in its beverage-can business declined sequentially from the fourth quarter -- which was also expected, as the company decided to "curtail sales" to one of its big customers in North America. Alcoa has been locked in negotiations with PepsiCo (PEP) and Anheuser-Busch (BUD) over long-term supply contracts.

Shares of Alcoa edged lower in after-market trading Monday, changing hands at $14.56, down a penny from the close in the regular session, when they gained 18 cents, or 1.25%.

In his prepared statement, Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld focused on the long term. "Our markets are gradually improving and both policy trends and consumer sentiment bode well for aluminum demand," he said, citing the new U.S. fuel-efficiency and emissions regulations for vehicles. "In addition, a growing number of customers are requesting sustainable products. Factors like these play to aluminum's superior advantages as a light, strong, versatile and infinitely recyclable material."

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York


Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.

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