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Alcoa swings to Q4'19, FY'19 net loss in challenging aluminum, alumina market

Alcoa Corp. swung to a US$303 million net loss, or US$1.63 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2019 from a US$51 million net profit, or 27 U.S. cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Revenues in the quarter fell to US$2.44 billion from US$3.34 billion in the prior-year period.

The fourth-quarter 2019 results included US$246 million in special items that were largely driven by pension and post-employment benefits, Alcoa said.

The company's full-year 2019 revenues were US$10.43 billion, down from US$13.40 billion in 2018. Alcoa swung to a net loss for the year of US$1.13 billion, or US$6.07 per share, against a US$250 million net profit, or US$1.33 per share, in 2018.

During a Jan. 15 earnings call, Alcoa President and CEO Roy Harvey reiterated plans to raise between US$500 million and US$1 billion from the sale of noncore assets and drive Alcoa's operating costs down to the first quartile from the second.

While Harvey cast the aluminum and alumina market as challenging with strong supply from China, among other factors, he pointed to potential in the emerging low-carbon aluminum market, where the company hopes to fetch a premium for products it is developing as part of the Elysis LP joint venture with Rio Tinto.

Harvey did not get into specifics about the potential premium, but he noted Apple Inc. recently bought a shipment of low-carbon product in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Alcoa ended the year with a US$879 million cash balance and US$1.8 billion of debt.