HONG KONG–Russian aluminum giant United Company Rusal on Monday said first-quarter net profit dived 84 percent from a year earlier due to higher costs and falling prices.
Rusal said its net profit for the three months ended March 31 totaled US$74 million from US$451 million over the same period in the previous year. Revenue fell 3.7 percent to US$2.88 billion. “The first quarter of 2012 has proved to be a tough test for the aluminum industry with the global demand for the metal slowing down and the aluminum price weakening,” chief executive Oleg Deripaska said in a statement. “Alongside the continued cost inflation, the challenging market environment weighed heavily on the profitability of aluminum producers.” Despite the “clouded” outlook for the aluminum sector, there were positive signs in the form of consumption growth in the United States and Japan, and higher car sales in Germany, he said. The world’s biggest aluminum producer, Rusal listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in January 2010. Its shares fell 1.99 percent on Monday morning to HK$4.93, after the main Hang Seng index opened 0.37 percent higher. The company in March reported a 91.7 percent drop in net profit for 2011. It has been rocked by the sudden resignation earlier this year of chairman Viktor Vekselberg and his subsequent threat to sue Rusal for alleging that he failed to perform his duties.