CHICAGO Kaiser Aluminum
Corp.s earnings surged last year but the company warned
of a tepid 2013, at least in the first half of the
"Weak fourth-quarter demand for
many of our end-market applications has continued in the first
quarter as uncertain global economic conditions and weak North
American industrial manufacturing demand continue to cloud our
near-term visibility for general engineering and industrial
applications," Jack A. Hockema, chairman, president and chief
executive officer, said in a statement released with earnings
data Feb. 19.
The Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based
company also expects automotive build rates in the first half
of 2013 to be flat compared with the same period last year,
Hockema said, while in the aerospace sector an "inventory
overhang" of extruded and drawn products should dampen demand
in the first half for most aerospace products except
Still, Hockema said he was
bullish about the prospects for Kaiser in the second half of
2013 and beyond, noting that the company planned to continue to
bolster its manufacturing platform and to boost capital
spending to between $50 million and $80 million in 2013.
Projects include a new casting unit at the companys
facility in Trentwood, Wash., to expand rolling ingot capacity,
as well as increased heat-treat plate capacity.
Kaisers net income soared
to $85.8 million last year from $25.1 million in 2011 on sales
that increased 4.5 percent to $1.36 billion. Fourth-quarter net
income jumped 49.2 percent to $9.1 million from $6.1 million in
the same period a year earlier despite a 1.1-percent decline in
sales to $314 million.
Strong aerospace and automotive
demand as well as better pricing and lower manufacturing costs
were responsible for the big gains, Hockema said, and Kaiser
also benefited from significant capital investments that have
been made since 2006 to boost capacity, improve efficiency and
expand product offerings.