People worried that third-quarter earnings are going to be even worse than expected got some early good news Tuesday when Alcoa reported a loss that was smaller than anticipated.
The aluminum giant said it lost $143 million in the third quarter due to hefty one-time charges. Alcoa's loss amounted to 13 cents a share and compared with net income of $172 million, or 15 cents, a year ago.
Excluding $175 million in one-time charges, Alcoa earned $32 million, or 3 cents a share.
Analysts had expected Alcoa to break even on a per-share basis, according to a survey by FactSet, and those estimates typically exclude one-time items.
Revenue fell 9% to $5.83 billion, from $6.42 billion, but still beat analysts' expectations.
Alcoa produces aluminum for a wide range of businesses, from automobiles to appliance makers and energy companies.
Alcoa is the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report quarterly earnings, so investors often watch its results for signs of how earnings may unfold for other companies. Its report is considered the unofficial start to earnings-reporting season.
But even though the company did better than expected, it still faces challenges.
Alcoa has been struggling as the global manufacturing slowdown cut into demand from many of its customers. Aluminum production fell slightly and realized aluminum prices dropped 17% from a year ago.
The company lowered its 2012 forecast for global aluminum demand to 6% growth from 7%, citing the economic slowdown in China. It said it is anticipating a slowdown across all major regions of the world for the rest of the year.
Alcoa released its results after the market closed.
In regular trading, its shares rose 1 cent to $9.13. In after-hours trading, they lost 10 cents.
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