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Bulker carrying bauxite unloading at a port in Yantai

A ship carrying aluminium bauxite from Guinea is unloaded at a port in Yantai, Shandong province, China May 15, 2017. Picture taken May 15, 2017. REUTERS

Aluminum Shipments Stagnate

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January 20, 2023

By Joe Deaux (Bloomberg) Alcoa’s aluminum shipments will be weaker than anticipated this year amid ongoing uncertainties caused by global inflation, dwindling demand in Europe and a soft economic outlook in China, the world’s biggest consumer.

The largest US aluminum producer expects to ship between 2.5 million and 2.6 million metric tons of the lightweight metal this year, Alcoa said Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings report. That’s on par with last year’s guidance though short of the 2.65 million tons average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Shares fell 4.4% to $51.10 at 4:35 p.m. in postmarket trading in New York.

Aluminum prices dropped more than 15% last year as demand for automobiles, appliances and window frames dwindled in the face of surging global inflation and a slowdown in consumer consumption.

“Last year, global turbulence negatively influenced costs for energy and raw materials, and we saw significant variance on product pricing between the first and second halves of 2022,” Chief Executive Officer Roy Harvey said in the statement. “We are taking actions to further improve.”

Alcoa said it had $29 million in adjusted earnings that excluded special items in the fourth quarter, missing the $106.9 million average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The shipments guidance comes despite a worldwide aluminum shortfall, spurred by massive supply cuts in Europe and resistance by purchasers wary about buying from Russia, the world’s second-largest producer, following its war in Ukraine. 

The Pittsburgh-based company said part of the reason it expects aluminum shipments to be little changed from last year is because of lower-than-anticipated trading volume. Alcoa gave a bit of positive news to investors in its outlook, with the company expecting both material and production costs to be $15 million lower for the year.

By Joe Deaux © 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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