Alcoa sees brighter 2013, but remains cautious

Tue Jan 8, 2013 9:06pm EST
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By Julie Gordon and Ernest Scheyder

(Reuters) - Alcoa Inc (AA.N: Quote), the largest aluminum producer in the United States, is cautiously optimistic demand for the metal will continue to grow in 2013, helped in part by strong sales to aerospace and construction customers.

Executives offered a positive outlook on Tuesday for 2013, but kept a cautious tone as worries lingered over a looming U.S. budget confrontation.

Alcoa expects global aluminum consumption to grow 7 percent in 2013, up slightly from 6 percent in 2012, and maintains global aluminum demand will double between 2010 and 2020.

It forecast global consumption growth in the aerospace sector to dip to 9 percent-10 percent in 2013 from 13 percent-14 percent in 2012, and pegged growth in the automotive sector at 1 percent-4 percent, well below 16 percent-17 percent in 2012.

"There is one uncertainty still there, which is the uncertainty around the U.S. budget, and that potentially has an impact, obviously, on the defense spend," Chief Executive Klaus Kleinfeld said on a conference call with investors.

The company posted a fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday, in line with Wall Street expectations, and handily beat expectations on revenue, helping calm investors' nerves after a rocky 2012.

Shares of Alcoa rose 1.3 percent in after-hours trading.

Analysts breathed a sigh of relief from the results of the first S&P 500 company to report fourth-quarter results, hoping it was a sign of things to come.   Continued...

People leave the Alcoa Business Services Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in this February 13, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Jason Cohn/Files