Alcoa Inc. (
), the U.S. aluminum giant, said Thursday it will reduce its
annual alumina production capacity by 2 percent this year, aimed
at matching output with its plans to reduce smelter capacity amid
a global oversupply that has hurt prices.
The move comes after a drop in prices of alumina, a key
ingredient for aluminum production, to levels where some of the
world's highest-cost refineries would not be profitable. Spot
alumina prices in March were around $315 per ton, down from above
$400, while aluminum prices slumped almost 20 percent in a
The New York-based aluminum products maker said it will reduce
alumina production capacity by 390,000 metric tons a year, or
about 2 percent of Alcoa's total capacity. The cuts are targeted
at the Atlantic region, which represents about half of the
company's global refining capacity of 18 million tons per
"Alcoa is taking these steps to avoid aggravating alumina
oversupply in the Atlantic region and to enhance the efficiency
of our refining system," Chris Ayers, president of Alcoa's Global
Primary Products, said in a statement "We will continue to
monitor market conditions and will take further action if
The cutback follows an announcement by Alcoa earlier this year
that it would close or curtail 531,000 metric tons, or 12
percent, of its global smelting capacity.
More than half of the 531,000 metric tons represented the
permanent closure of capacity in Tennessee and Texas that had
been idled since 2009, while the rest represented curtailments to
be taken in Portovesme, Italy and La Coruna and Aviles,
The 90,000 metric ton curtailment in the Spanish smelters has
started and is scheduled to be complete by the first half of this
year. The smelter in Portovesme, Italy, with a capacity of
150,000 metric tons, will finalize curtailment by the end of the
Alcoa, which has seen its stock fall 45 percent from a year
ago, will unofficially kick off the U.S. earnings season next
week and is expected to post a quarterly loss of 4 cents per
share, down from a profit of 28 cents a share the prior year.
Alcoa is scheduled to report its first-quarter 2012 results
after the market closes on Tuesday, April 10.
The company's loss in the fourth quarter followed profits in
the previous three quarters, which was boosted by demand from
automobile and aerospace companies and emerging markets like
China. But that strength has been declining as demand weakened,
aluminum prices tanked and raw-materials costs climbed.
Shares of Alcoa Inc. (
) fell 1.83 percent, to close at $9.63 in Thursday's trading. Its
main competitor, Aluminum Corp. of China (
) gained 3.01 percent.