Alcoa Shares Jump as Results Top Expectations

CNBC.com with Reuters

Alcoareported another quarterly loss Wednesday as aluminum demand remained weak and the price of the metal was depressed, but the shortfall was narrower than analysts expected. The company's sales exceeded forecasts as well.

Shares of the aluminum giant jumped in extended trading Wednesday.

"At first glance it looks constructive," said Brian Hicks, co-manager of U.S. Global Investors' natural resources fund. "They were able to do better than expected from cost savings. Year-over-year production is down, and down sequentially as well, but it looks like they were able to contain costs."

The aluminum giant reported a loss of 26 cents a share in the second quarter, excluding one-time charges, compared with earnings of 66 cents a share in the same period last year.

The company reported a topline of $4.2 billion, compared with sales of $7.62 billion this time last year. The most recent results were hurt as metal prices and the auto industry have slumped and global demand has fallen during the economic downturn.

Analysts who follow Alcoa expected on average for the company to report a loss of 38 cents a share on sales of $3.93 billion.

Shares of Alcoa, which rose on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday to close at $9.46, leaped about 8 percent in extended trading after an earlier halt. Click Here for Real-Time, After-Hours Quotes on Alcoa.

The company said the average price of aluminum on the London Metal Exchange in the second quarter was $1,485 per tonne, a nine percent increase from the first quarter of 2009, but a 49 percent decrease from the second quarter of 2008.

The economic downturn has affected most of Alcoa's end markets—automotive, commercial transportation, building and construction, and aerospace, it said.

In response to the tough times, Alcoa—the first member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to report—has cut thousands of jobs, slashed its dividend, trimmed spending and raised $1.3 billion to help it through the slowdown.

But on Wednesday, it said its Juruti bauxite mine in Brazil and the Alumar alumina refining upgrade and expansion are both in the process of being commissioned. The first shipment of bauxite from Juruti is expected within the next 90 days.

The Alumar refinery has already begun to produce its first alumina and is on target for ramp-up to full production during the second half of the year, Alcoa said. Alumina, refined from bauxite, is smelted into aluminum.