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Allegheny Tech 4Q Profit Falls 60%, Hurt By Pricing

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Allegheny Technologies Inc.'s (ATI) fourth-quarter earnings slid 60%, hurt by one-time charges and after a year-earlier gain, as the company's sales rose but margins declined amid higher metal prices. The company also forecast current-year sales growth of 15% to 20%. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters most recently expected 11% growth. Chairman and Chief Executive L. Patrick Hassey said the company expects "the resumption of strong secular growth in our key global markets beginning in 2011." "As the U.S. economy continues to recover in 2011, we believe demand will increase for our standard stainless sheet and plate products," Hassey said. "Our customers are closely watching price trends in raw materials as surcharges can affect the timing of their purchasing decisions." Allegheny, a metal processor that makes products for the aerospace and petrochemical industries, has experienced rising revenue in recent quarters, though it has suffered from higher steel prices lately. In November, the company agreed to acquire fellow metal-products maker Ladish Co. (LDSH) in a cash-and-stock deal that valued the company at about $778 million. Allegheny reported a profit of $15.1 million, or 15 cents a share, down from $37.8 million, or 36 cents, a year earlier. The most-recent quarter included a $15.1 million inventory-valuation reserve charge and $20.4 million in startup and idle-facility costs, while the year-earlier quarter's earnings were helped by a $43.8 million benefit and dinged by $13.5 million of startup and idle-facility costs. Revenue jumped 27% to $1.04 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 30 cents on $1.05 billion in revenue. Gross margin plunged to 12.3% from 19.4%. Sales in its flat-rolled products segment--its biggest by sales and which makes stainless-steel sheets--jumped 34%, though profit slid 19%. Revenue from its high-performance metal segment, which makes titanium- and nickel-based alloys, increased 12% while profit declined 28%. Shares closed at $58.40 Tuesday and were inactive premarket. The stock has risen 38% this year. -By Nathan Becker, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2855;;

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