Alcoa posts profit in fourth-quarter 2012

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Alcoa today reported a fourth-quarter profit, reversing a loss from a year ago despite lower sales. Profits for all of 2012 fell sharply.

The aluminum producer said it earned $242 million, or 21 cents per share, in the fourth quarter on sales of $5.9 billion vs. a loss of $191 million, or 18 cents per share, on sales of $6 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding a $161 million gain from the sale of a U.S. hydroelectric power plant and other one-time items, Alcoa earned 6 cents per share during the quarter, in line with analysts' estimates.

For all of 2012, Alcoa reported net income of $191 million, or 18 cents per share, vs. 2011 earnings of $611 million, or 55 cents per share. Sales fell 5 percent to $23.7 billion. The results reflect a 12 percent drop in aluminum prices from 2011 levels, the company said.

In a news release, Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said the company made significant progress last year, reducing debt and realizing $1.3 billion in productivity and overhead improvements.

Downstream operations turned in a strong performance and the company has shuttered 12 percent of its high-cost smelting capacity, he said.

Mr. Kleinfeld forecast aluminum demand will grow 7 percent this year, up from 6 percent last year.

The results were disclosed after Wall Street closed.

Alcoa shares were priced higher in after-hours trading. They closed today at $9.09, down 1 cent, after rising less than 1 percent last year.

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Len Boselovic: or 412-263-1941.

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