Aluminum giant Alcoa said its third-quarter net earnings were triple a year earlier, but slid from the previous quarter as metal prices fell and the European economy stumbled.
Opening the corporate earnings reporting season, Alcoa said its net income for the three months to September 30 was $172m, on sales of $6.4 billion, compared with earnings of just $61m on $5.3 billion in sales for the same time a year ago.
But lower aluminum prices meant the quarter's net was nearly half of the previous quarter's $322m, while total sales were only down 2.5%, the company said. Earnings per share for the third quarter was 15 cents, compared to six cents a year earlier.
Alcoa's results widely missed market expectations of earnings per share of 22 cents, although sales topped forecasts of $6.42 billion.
"Aluminum prices fell in the third quarter, but most markets continued to grow," Alcoa chairman and chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld said. ''With the exception of Europe, we saw growth in our end markets, though at a slower rate than in the first half, as confidence in the global recovery faded,'' he added.
Kleinfeld predicted a growth rate of 12% for the firm this year, and stuck by its forecast for a doubling of global aluminum demand by 2020.
"Alcoa is a confident company in a nervous world. We are well prepared for whatever lies ahead, with more cash on hand, lower debt and continued focus on profitable growth,'' the CEO said.