Write down of smelting operations sends Alcoa to $2.3B loss in 4Q

Canadian Press, The Canadian Press
0 Comments| January 10, 2014

(The Canadian Press) DALLAS – Alcoa Inc. (AA, Stock Forum) reported a $2.34 billion fourth-quarter loss as it wrote down the value of years-old aluminum-smelting acquisitions to shift its focus to more profitable businesses.

An adjusted measure of profit fell short of Wall Street expectations as revenue fell 5% to $5.59 billion.

Alcoa is struggling with stubbornly weak aluminum prices – in the quarter, the company was paid an average of 7.0% less for the metal than it received in the same period a year earlier. The company is hoping that demand for aluminum in airplanes and autos will help boost prices. It predicted that overall demand would grow 7.0% this year, the same as in 2013.

Alcoa has idled one-sixth of its smelting capacity. It sees a brighter future in its segments that produce rolled aluminum and engineered products, which accounted for 57% of company revenue in 2013.

In the fourth quarter, the company's loss equaled $2.19 per share. A year earlier, the company earned $242 million, or 21 cents per share.

The company said Thursday that without the smelting write-downs, restructuring charges and other special items, it would have earned four cents per share. Analysts were expecting six cents per share.

Its $5.59 billion in revenue beat the forecast of $5.36 billion from analysts surveyed by FactSet.

The company released fourth-quarter results just hours after announcing that a joint venture pleaded guilty to bribing officials in the Middle East kingdom of Bahrain. The affiliate and Alcoa agreed to pay $384 million in penalties.

Separately, a joint venture of which Alcoa owns 60% admitted bribing officials in Bahrain through a London-based middleman. The affiliate, Alcoa World Alumina LLC, will pay $223 million in fines and criminal penalties for violating a federal law against bribing foreign officials, and the parent company agreed to pay a civil penalty of $161 million for related violations of Securities and Exchange Commission rules.

In 2012, Alcoa settled related claims by state-controlled Aluminum Bahrain for $85 million.

CFO William Oplinger told reporters that penalties will be ``manageable'' because they will be spread over five payments. With the plea deal and the write-down of smelting acquisitions made at least a decade ago, ``We've put a number of legacy matters behind us,'' he said


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