Increased aluminum prices boost Chalco profit

Updated: 2011-03-02 07:45

(China Daily)

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 Increased aluminum prices boost Chalco profit

A model of an Aluminum Corp of China Ltd plant inside the company's headquarters in Beijing. Doug Kanter / Bloomberg

SHANGHAI - Aluminum Corp of China Ltd, or Chalco, swung back into profit in 2010 after posting a loss in 2009, thanks to increased global aluminum prices.

The country's biggest aluminum producer by output posted a net profit of 778 million yuan ($118 million), or 0.06 yuan a share, in 2010, reversing a net loss of 4.65 billion yuan a year earlier, the company said on Tuesday.

Revenue was 120.99 billion yuan, up 72 percent from 70.27 billion yuan in 2009.

"The internal structural adjustments and a hike in the price of aluminum last year helped the company swing back into profit," said Xiong Weiping, chairman and chief executive officer of Chalco.

The London Metal Exchange's 3-month aluminum price, which slumped during the recession, rose 34.5 percent last year to reach $2,272 a ton. Shanghai Futures Exchange's 3-month aluminum also rose to 16,186 yuan a ton in 2010, up 20.3 percent from a year earlier.

Chalco said price hikes in its main products contributed about 8.2 billion yuan to profit last year.

Xiong said he expects alumina prices to reach $350 to $430 a ton this year in the global markets and 2,700 to 3,300 yuan in the domestic market.

Despite the rising aluminum price, Xiong said his company faces "great challenges" this year.

"Though China's aluminum industry has entered a post-crisis era, the fundamentals have not been changed yet. It's still a low-profit industry with overcapacity," said Xiong.

The government's tightening monetary policies will also put pressure on the company's financial cost, though global aluminum demand will rebound along with a global economic recovery, he added.

The People's Bank of China, the central bank, has raised the reserve requirement ratio for banks eight times, in addition to hiking the benchmark interest rate three times since the beginning of 2010 to control excessive liquidity.

Chalco plans to raise up to 25 billion yuan this year in China's inter-bank bond market as well as issuing up to 1 billion A-share stocks domestically to raise more than 9 billion yuan, in a move to optimize debt and replenish liquidity.

In late 2010, Chalco's debts totaled 69.5 billion yuan, with an average interest rate of 4.72 percent, down 0.29 percent from a year earlier.

The company said it will continue its overseas expansion this year, as part of its plan to transform itself from an aluminum company into a "top international mining company".

Luo Jianchuan, executive director and president of Chalco, said bauxite, iron ore and steam coal will be the three main mines on Chalco's international shopping list, adding that the company is "rushing" to acquire bauxite mines in Southeast Asia, without revealing any more details.

A total of 22.5 billion yuan will be used this year to buy 500 million tons of bauxite globally, the company said.

Last year, Chalco made its first investment in iron ore production, paying $1.35 billion for a 44.65 percent stake in Rio Tinto Group's Simandou iron ore project in Guinea.

"We are now quickening our steps to make overseas investments in bauxite, iron ore and steam coal," Luo said.


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