Shares in aluminium producer Rusal fall on weaker than expected third-quarter profit

Moscow and Hong Kong-listed company forecasts rise in metal’s supply deficit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 4:40pm

Shares in Rusal, the world’s second-largest aluminium producer, fell after it posted a less than expected net profit, despite the company raising its forecast for a deficit in the global supply of the lightweight industrial metal.

The Moscow and Hong Kong-listed company’s unadjusted net profit rose by 14.3 per cent to US$312 million, less than the average of US$365.5 million forecast by two analysts polled by Bloomberg.

However, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) for the quarter amounted to US$549 million, 4.3 per cent ahead of analysts’ forecast of US$526.5 million.

Revenue for the quarter grew by 19.4 per cent to US$2.46 billion, on the back of a 24 per cent increase in the average aluminium price quoted on the London Metal Exchange (LME), helped largely by reduced supply from China. It recorded a recurring net profit of US$436 million for the three months to September 30, up from US$327 million in the same period a year ago.

The energy-intensive Chinese aluminium industry, which produces more than half of the global supply, has been under pressure from Beijing to shut down illegal smelting plants and those that do not meet energy efficiency and environmental regulations.

“On the back of robust aluminium demand and growing LME price, the company reported strong financial results,” chief executive Vladislav Soloviev said in a filing to Hong Kong’s bourse on Monday.

Rusal’s per tonne production cost rose by 14.3 per cent year on year to US$1,520, a rate less than that of revenue, allowing the company to expand its third-quarter net profit margin to 17.7 per cent from 15.9 per cent.

In the first nine months, recurring profit soared by 49.2 per cent year on year to US$1.12 billion.

Rusal is forecasting the global aluminium supply deficit to reach 1.1 million tonnes this year, slightly higher than the “around 1 million” tonnes it predicted in its interim results filing in August.

It expects global demand to increase by 5.9 per cent to 63.1 million tonnes for the whole of this year, led by 7.7 per cent growth in China, which accounts for 54 per cent of the world’s total demand.

Energy and commodities consultancy Wood Mackenzie said in late August that if Beijing's order for non-compliant capacity to be shut down – partly to tackle chronic air pollution in northern China – are strictly implemented, about 5 million tonnes of production could go offline.

Rusal shares closed 1.3 per cent lower at HK$5.39 on Monday, compared with a 0.2 per cent gain by the Hang Seng Index.