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Sector Snap: Aluminum Producers Tumble

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Shares of aluminum producers fell Monday after analysts downgraded three of the companies' stocks, saying they believe shares of gold miners will do better in a weak global economy.

Deutsche Bank analyst Jorge Beristain downgraded shares of Alcoa Inc. to "Hold" from "Buy," while a group of analysts for Morgan Stanley downgrade shares of Century Aluminum Co. to "Equal-weight" from "Overweight," and Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp. to "Underweight" from "Equal-weight." The analysts said producers of industrial metals like aluminum face greater risks from the slowing global economy.

"Recent weeks have seen an increase in global risk aversion on rising concerns of European debt crisis, faltering growth in developed world and a slowdown in emerging markets," Beristain wrote. He cut his price estimates on industrial metals and most precious metals other than gold, and lowered his price target on Alcoa to $14 per share from $20. He said the company has high leverage. Its shares are trading near $9 now.

Alcoa's performance can reflect broader economic trends because the Pittsburgh company's products reach across a wide variety of businesses ranging from aerospace and automobiles to beverage cans and construction. Alcoa is scheduled to report its third-quarter results after the market closes on Oct. 11. It is traditionally the first Dow component to post its quarterly earnings.

The Morgan Stanley analysts cut their price target on Alcoa to $13 per share from $22, but had a more positive view of the company, saying it is "relatively insulated from metals prices" compared with companies like Century Aluminum and Noranda. They raised their estimates for gold producers while reducing their expectations for base metal miners. Beristain upgraded shares of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold and Goldcorp Inc. to "Buy" from "Hold."

Alcoa shares lost 50 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $9.07 in afternoon trading. Century Aluminum shares fell 78 cents, or 8.8 percent, to $8.16, while Noranda stock declined 83 cents, or 9.9 percent, to $7.52.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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