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Alcoa Swings to 2Q Loss as Aluminum Prices Fall

By Nathalie Tadena Alcoa Inc. (AA) swung to a second-quarter loss as aluminum prices continued to decline and as special items weighed on the aluminum giant's bottom-line results. In the latest period, Alcoa's average realized price for aluminum fell 18% from a year earlier and was down 4.3% from the prior quarter. Shipments of aluminum products increased 2.9%. "Alcoa maintained revenue strength and solid liquidity by driving high profitability in our mid and downstream businesses and by reducing costs and improving performance in our upstream businesses," said Chairman and Chief Executive Klaus Kleinfeld. The company's results have been hurt in recent periods by a decline in aluminum prices--a result of weak demand in Europe, global uncertainties and excessive production--and higher raw-material costs. Alcoa has said it would contend with sluggish aluminum prices by cutting costs, limiting production and relying more on high-margin end products less vulnerable to slumping metal prices, such as bolts and wheels for cars and airplanes. In the latest period, total costs and expenses slipped 1.6%. During the quarter, Alcoa proposed to settle a civil suit by offering a cash payment of $45 million. It estimates an additional possible charge of up to $75 million to settle the suit. Alcoa, an industrial bellwether that unofficially kicks off the U.S. earnings season, posted a loss of $2 million, or less than a penny a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $322 million, or 28 cents a share. Excluding restructuring charges and other special items, earnings from continuing operations in the latest period were 6 cents a share, down from 32 cents. Revenue slid 9.4% to $5.96 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted a per-share profit of 5 cents and revenue of $5.81 billion. Shares were up four cents at $8.80 after hours. Through the close, the stock has fallen 47% over the past 12 months. Write to Nathalie Tadena at nathalie.tadena@dowjones.com

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