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Alcoa expects demand growth, returns to profit

Keywords: Tags  Alcoa, Klaus Kleinfeld, fourth-quarter earnings, Suzy Waite

NEW YORK— Alcoa Inc. expects global aluminum demand to grow 7 percent in 2013, chairman and chief executive officer Klaus Kleinfeld says.

The Pittsburgh-based producer kicked off the earnings season Tuesday on a strong note, reporting fourth-quarter 2012 net income of $242 million, a marked improvement over a loss of $143 million in the third quarter and a $191-million loss in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"We overcame volatile metal prices and global economic instability to deliver on our targets for the fourth year in a row," Kleinfeld said in a statement. "We enter 2013 in a strong position to maximize profitable growth."

Sales rose to $5.9 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $5.83 billion in the third quarter but down slightly from $5.99 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Net income for the full year plummeted 68.7 percent to $191 million, down from $611 million in 2011. Total-year sales in 2012 totaled $23.7 billion, down from $24.95 billion in the year-ago period.

This year, Alcoa is forecasting global growth in aerospace of 9 to 10 percent; automotive, 1 to 4 percent; commercial transportation, 2 to 7 percent; packaging, 2 to 3 percent; building and construction, 4 to 5 percent; and industrial gas turbines, 3 to 5 percent.

Although consumer demand is looking positive, a debt ceiling resolution is essential for continued growth in the United States, Kleinfeld said.

The debt ceiling negotiations are "literally going to kill everyone’s confidence," he said in an interview with CNBC following the release of Alcoa's results. "A lot of potentially good things could happen, but then, at the end, you see medium to small entrepreneurs like in the trucking business—they are getting scared from all these discussions and they are walking away."

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