Alcoa Inc. said Monday that it narrowed its first-quarter loss as demand for some aluminum products picked up and prices improved.
For the quarter that ended March 31, Alcoa reported a net loss of $201 million or 20 cents per share.
That compared with a net loss of $497 million, or 61 cents a share, a year ago, when the company was struggling with the impact of the recession.
Alcoa's most recent results include $295 million, or 29 cents a share, in one-time charges related to the health care reform law and the closing of two smelters.
Revenue rose nearly 20 percent to $4.9 billion.
The aluminum manufacturing giant said it expects sales to improve with the growing popularity of fuel-efficient vehicles and sustainable products made with aluminum.
"Our markets are gradually improving and both policy trends and consumer sentiment bode well for aluminum demand," said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa President and CEO.
Alcoa's average realized price per metric ton of aluminum in the first quarter was $2,331, up from $1,567 in the same period a year ago.
Argus Research analyst Bill Selesky doesn't think that means you'll soon be paying more for drinks in aluminum cans or other products made with the metal. "I think you have to see if it continues," Selesky said. "I think on a short-term basis, it really has little effect on the consumer."
Alcoa is the first company in the Dow Jones Industrial average to issue earnings results, and its performance can reflect economic trends because of its diverse customer base, which ranges from aerospace and construction to electronics and beverage cans.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast, on average, earnings of 10 cents a share on revenue of $5.24 billion. They typically exclude one-time items.
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