Alcoa Posts Earnings Surprise Amid Falling Prices

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Alcoa  (AA), the largest aluminum producer in the U.S., beat earnings expectations in its first quarter after stripping out the impact of restructuring charges.

Shares are gaining in response. After the bell, the stock had climbed 2.4% to $12.83.

Pittsburgh-based Alcoa recorded adjusted net income of $98 million, or 9 cents a share, in the three months to March. Analyst averages compiled by Thomson Reuters pointed to $47.55 million or 5 cents a share.

However, the results are less than profits of $121 million, or 11 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter which were boosted by aluminum prices per metric ton $193 higher than current levels.

On an unadjusted basis, the company swung to a loss of $178 million, or 16 cents a share.

In line with forecasts, revenue fell 6% to $5.5 billion, dragged on by an 8% year-over-year decline in realized aluminum prices.

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In recent months, the company has been aggressively streamlining its operations to offset a decline in price for its primary product. In March, Alcoa said it would cut 147,000 metric tons of capacity at two of its Brazilian aluminum smelters after increased costs weighed on profitability.

A month earlier, the company announced its plans to close an aluminum smelter and two mills in Australia by the end of the year, noting in a statement that the plants were "no longer competitive and are not financially sustainable."

Alcoa also said it would permanently close two remaining potlines at its Massena East, New York smelter.

Combined, closures in the three regions would reduce Alcoa's operating smelting capacity by 28%, or 1.2 million metric tons, since peak 2007 levels.

The company remains confident in the global recovery in certain segments, though. Alcoa increased expectations for sales growth in aerospace to 9% from 8%, automotive to 4% from 1%, and building and construction to 6% from 4%.

The company projects an overall 7% global demand growth for aluminum over fiscal 2014.

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