Alcoa ( AA) posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings as revenue jumped 20%.

The aluminum giant said Tuesday that its profit rose to $359 million, or 41 cents a share, from $224 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding charges, earnings were 74 cents a share, beating Thomson First Call's average analyst estimate by 9 cents. The charges included impairments and restructuring costs related to recent job cuts, as well as the formation of a new joint venture.

Sales climbed to $7.84 billion from $6.53 billion, topping Wall Street's estimate of $7.63 billion.

For all of 2006, Alcoa's revenue rose 19%, a gain the company attributed to higher metal prices and demand in the aerospace, transportation and commercial building markets.

The better-than-expected fourth-quarter results mark a turnaround from the third quarter, when profits surged but missed forecasts.

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