BEIJING, May 14 -- United Co. Rusal, the world's largest aluminum producer, swung to a first-quarter profit from a loss a year ago as prices and demand for the metal used in planes and packaging climbed with the global economic recovery.
Net income was $247 million compared with a $638 million loss a year ago, Moscow-based Rusal said today in a statement. VTB Capital expected Rusal to earn $367 million.
Rusal, controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, is restarting plants as prices jumped 59 percent in the quarter and global demand outside of China is forecast to grow 10 percent this year. The first Russian company to sell shares in Hong Kong is seeking to repay at least $12 billion of debt and needs growing profit to revive a stock down 24 percent since its debut.
"Global aluminum producers are gradually increasing output as demand recovered from the crisis," said Helen Lau, a Hong Kong-based analyst at UOB Kay Hian Ltd. "There are signs that global aluminum inventories are dropping, so it's a positive sign on demand side."
Rusal rose 0.4 percent to HK$8.25 yesterday. The Russian company, which returned to an annual profit in 2009, raised $2.24 billion in the January IPO selling shares at HK$10.80 each.
Sales rose 31 percent to $2.3 billion. Aluminum production dropped 4 percent from a year ago and alumina output decreased 14 percent, it said.
"Market conditions continue to improve, with the aluminum price benefiting from improving U.S. demand and rising premiums, a stable picture in Asia and a continued decrease" in stocks on the London Metal Exchange, Deripaska said in the statement.