Alcoa sales slide though net loss shrinks

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Alcoa Inc. on Monday reported a smaller net loss for the fourth quarter Monday, though revenue shrank without improvement in its aerospace, commercial building and gas turbines businesses.

The company, based in Pittsburgh, reported a net loss of $277 million, or 28 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.19 billion, or $1.49 per share, a year ago.

The most recent quarter included $275 million, or 28 cents a share, in special charges.

Revenue fell to $5.43 billion from $5.68 billion.

Alcoa said free cash flow turned positive for the first time since the second quarter of 2008, a sign the company was able to generate money from operations and not solely through cost-cutting.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average predicted Alcoa would earn 6 cents a share on revenue of $4.86 billion.

The company’s quarterly report signals the beginning of the earnings season for S&P 500 companies and it can be a sign of things to come.

Analysts on Monday were looking for better sales in the company’s aerospace and construction businesses after a year in which major corporations salvaged profits with severe cost cuts.

Alcoa said it achieved a price of about 97.8 cents a pound for aluminum in the quarter, up from 8 cents from the third quarter, but the company said those gains were offset in some segments by a weaker U.S. dollar.

Alcoa reported results after the market closed and shares tumbled 6 percent, or $1.05, to $16.40 in aftermarket trading.