Jan 9 (Reuters) - Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc reported a big quarterly loss on Thursday as it took a $1.7 billion non-cash impairment charge on past smelter acquisitions.
Stubbornly low aluminum prices have hurt the performance of Alcoa's upstream segments, which mine bauxite, refine it into alumina and smelt alumina to produce aluminum.
Excluding the impairment charge, related to acquisitions made in 1998 and 2000, and other special items, earnings fell to $40 million, or 4 cents a share, from $64 million, or 6 cents, a year earlier.
After-tax operating income rose in Alcoa's engineered products segment, which makes cast metal goods like aluminum wheels, to $726 million from $612 million. In recent quarters the business has proven more profitable than selling less-processed metal into a tough market.
Net loss attributable to Alcoa was $2.34 billion, or $2.19 a share, compared with income of $242 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales fell to $5.59 billion from $5.90 billion.
Analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 6 cents a share on revenue of $5.34 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.