Alcoa, the largest US aluminium producer, last night reported a better than expected first-quarter profit, but its revenue missed Wall Street's target.

Revenue in the quarter rose 22% to $5.96 billion, helped by rising prices for aluminium and alumina - the raw material for the metal - but this lagged the Wall Street forecast of $6.08 billion.

Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld told analysts the company still expected global aluminium demand to grow by 12% this year with some industrial sectors, such as heavy trucks, growing even more.

In its results, Alcoa said income from continuing operations, excluding special items, was 28 cents a share. That topped analysts' expectations of 27 cents a share.

Net first-quarter profits were $308m, compared with a net loss of $201m in the same quarter of 2010. Alcoa said the improvement was driven by higher prices for aluminium and alumina. The price of aluminium has climbed more than 30% in the past year.

Alcoa is traditionally the first of the US's big companies to report quarterly financial results.