CHICAGO Century Aluminum
Co. remains cautiously optimistic about the prospects of the
aluminum market in the United States and abroad despite posting
a full-year net loss.
"We are witnessing a modest
improvement in general market conditions," Michael Bless,
president and chief executive officer of the Monterey,
Calif.-based aluminum producer, said in a Feb. 21 earnings
report. "In the U.S., our key markets remain generally strong,
with encouraging conditions in important sectors such as
Abroad, economic activity in
China has "at least stabilized," with signs of faster growth in
the country emerging, Bless said. In the eurozone area,
industrial activity remains depressed but the risk of a
sovereign or banking crisis has eased, he added.
Aluminum prices have also
exhibited less volatility, at the same time that regional
premiums "remain robust," Bless said. Still, he said the
company remains cautious due to potential political turmoil in
the United States and Europe.
Century Aluminum reported
$35.6-million net loss in 2012, in contrast to $10.4 million in
2011 net income allocated to common shareholders, on sales that
slipped 6.2 percent to $1.27 billion.
In the fourth quarter, the
companys net loss narrowed to $6.9 million from $31.1
million a year earlier, on sales that inched 0.2 percent lower
to $317.7 million.
Century shipped 646,529 tonnes
of primary aluminum in 2012, up 7.4 percent from the 602,142
tonnes shipped in 2011. In the final quarter of last year, the
company shipped 162,303 tonnes, up 4.3 percent from 155,659
tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2011.
On the operations front, Century
said its Mount Holly, S.C., plant has concluded an agreement to
take advantage of excess power available outside the region. It
also noted progress in finding a power agreement that could
allow it to reopen its Ravenswood, W.Va., facility.
"The political leadership in
each of these states has taken an aggressive role in preserving
this critical economic activity," Bless said. "We are now
working hard in Kentucky to achieve the same result."
Century and Big Rivers Electric
Corp., Henderson, Ky., are looking to negotiate a solution to a
dispute over power at the aluminum producers Hawesville,
Ky., smelter that would allow Century to tap the free market
for electricity (
amm.com, Feb. 19).
"With the appropriate
market-based power agreement, we are confident we will be able
to operate and invest in the plant for years to come," Bless