Allegheny Technologies' first-quarter loss larger than expected

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Allegheny Technologies today reported a larger-than-expected first-quarter loss, but expressed optimism that business conditions will improve over the rest of 2014.

The Pittsburgh specialty metals producer said it lost $20 million, or 19 cents per share, versus net income of $10 million, or 9 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales fell 10 percent to $987.3 million.

Analysts had forecast a loss of 3 cents per share on sales of $1.02 billion.

Chairman, president and CEO Rich Harshman said higher inventory and raw material costs hurt the company during the first quarter, but that business improved later in the period.

"For the first time in several years we are beginning to see early signs of what appears to be sustainable improvement and demand growth from most of our end markets," he said in a statement released by the company.

Mr. Harshman expects the company to break even on an operating basis in the second quarter, excluding costs of starting up its new rolling mill in Brackenridge.

He noted the company's backlog of business was $1.8 billion at the end of the quarter, the highest in two years. The company expects to achieve at least $100 million in cost savings this year, $30 million of which were realized in the first quarter, Mr. Harshman said.

The results were released before the market opened. Allegheny Technologies shares closed Monday at $40.67, down 57 cents. They are up 14 percent this year.


Len Boselovic: 412-263-1941 or lboselovic@post-gazette.com

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