April 30, 2019 / 4:40 AM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Chalco aluminium output drops in first quarter; profits rise

* Chalco Q1 aluminium output down 6.9 pct y/y at 950,000 T

* Company posts Q1 net income of 444.9 mln yuan, up 46 pct y/y

* Turnaround from net loss of 626 mln yuan in Q4 2018 (Recasts to lead with operational data)

By Tom Daly

BEIJING, April 30 (Reuters) - Aluminum Corp of China Ltd , known as Chalco, said in a data sheet sent to analysts that its first-quarter aluminium output fell by 6.9 percent year-on-year, underlining the impact low prices are having on its operations.

Its aluminium output for January-March came in at 950,000 tonnes, down from 1.02 million tonnes a year earlier, said Chalco, listed arm of Chinalco, China’s biggest state-owned aluminium firm, in the data sheet released on Tuesday and reviewed by Reuters.

Despite the lower production, Chalco’s profits rose 46 percent year-on-year to 444.9 million yuan ($66.08 million), according to a Monday filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, as asset disposals swelled its bottom line.

That compared with an adjusted net profit figure of 304.5 million yuan in the first quarter of 2018 and a net loss of 626 million yuan in the fourth quarter, when Chinese aluminium prices slumped to two-year lows.

Revenue was up 20.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to 44.11 billion yuan, Chalco said in its earnings statement. Output of alumina, the substance used to make aluminium, rose 10 percent year-on-year to 3.51 million tonnes, according to the data sheet.

Chalco did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the output numbers.

The Chinese aluminium maker last year overtook United Company Rusal as the world’s second-biggest listed producer of the metal, churning out 4.17 million tonnes of it.

With margins squeezed by low prices, however, Chalco in January said it was shutting a 200,000 tonnes per year plant in Shandong, citing high electricity costs, among other factors. That followed production cuts made at other Chalco facilities in November.

Aluminium prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were broadly flat in the first quarter, still languishing below the 14,000 yuan-a-tonne mark that many smelters need to break even.

Despite the drop in production, Chalco remained ahead of Rusal in the first quarter, with the Russian firm saying Tuesday its January-March aluminium output was 928,000 tonnes.

Chalco’s first-quarter earnings were lifted by investment income to the tune of 415.3 million yuan through the disposal of subsidiaries, joint ventures and associates.

These include sales of a 60 percent equity interest in power distribution firm Ningxia Fenghao and a 40 percent stake in Inner Mongolia Fengrong to parent Chinalco.

This quarter, aluminium prices in China are up 3.4 percent near 14,200 yuan a tonne as demand recovers during the metal’s peak consumption period, easing the pressure on smelters.

$1 = 6.7332 yuan Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Tom Hogue

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