First quarter 2011: Results rise on higher aluminium prices and stronger sales

Hydro had underlying earnings before financial items and tax (EBIT) of NOK 1,448 million in the first quarter, up from NOK 588 million in the fourth quarter. Higher realized aluminium prices and premiums, higher volumes and lower operating costs lifted underlying results for the quarter.

April 29, 2011
  • Underlying EBIT NOK 1,448 million
  • Stronger sales supported by seasonally improved markets
  • Stable Bauxite & Alumina result, weak production performance
  • Primary Metal up on higher prices, partly offset by increased raw material costs
  • Down- and midstream lifted by higher sales and lower costs
  • Energy up on increased prices and high production
  • Vale deal closed, organization in place and integration proceeding as planned
  • Qatalum ramp-up on schedule for full production from June
  • Sunndal line 3 to restart 15,000 tonnes per year capacity in June, preparing to resume full production

"Closing the deal to acquire Vale's aluminium assets was a milestone in Hydro's history as a global and truly integrated aluminium company. This transforming move secures access to bauxite and alumina for aluminium production for decades to come, providing us with a solid platform for the future," Hydro's President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg said.
 
"At the end of the first quarter, the large Qatalum aluminium plant was producing at more than 60 percent of full capacity, and ramp-up is continuing towards full production from June. Completion and full output at the Qatalum smelter will be another landmark event for Hydro," Brandtzæg said.
 
After closing the Vale deal on February 28 this year, Hydro is reporting results for its new Bauxite & Alumina business area for the first time this quarter, including the acquired assets from March 1. Underlying EBIT for Bauxite & Alumina improved due to higher LME-linked alumina prices and the effect of including the acquired bauxite and alumina activities. Weak production performance had a negative impact.
 
Underlying results for Primary Metal rose significantly in the first quarter from the fourth, due to higher realized aluminium prices, higher realized premiums and lower fixed costs. Positive developments were partly offset by rising raw material costs. Operating results for Qatalum, the joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Hydro, improved in the quarter. Underlying EBIT for Primary Metal included NOK 145 million of insurance proceeds relating to the power outage at the plant in August last year.
 
In light of recent positive market developments, Hydro will restart 15,000 tonnes annual capacity at its Norwegian Sunndal aluminium plant line 3 in June, preparing to resume full production at the plant, which has been running at reduced capacity since March 2009 due to a very weak market for aluminium.
 
"We are preparing to restart Sunndal 3, as markets showed considerable recovery throughout 2010, stabilizing into the first quarter 2011. Conditional on continued satisfactory market conditions, Hydro's intention is to restart the complete 100,000 tonnes line in the second half 2011," Brandtzæg said. The timing for a full restart will be decided later.
 
Hydro's mid and downstream operations delivered substantially higher underlying EBIT, due to higher sales volumes, higher margins and lower operating and maintenance costs.
 
Underlying EBIT for Energy increased on higher spot prices, higher net spot sales and lower transmission costs.
 
Net cash used in operating activities amounted to NOK 0.6 billion for the quarter including increased working capital. Including the Vale transaction, net cash used in investment activities amounted to NOK 6.4 billion in the quarter. Following the Vale transaction debt increased by NOK 5.8 billion resulting in a net debt position of NOK 2.0 billion at the end of the quarter. 

Key financial information
NOK million, except per share data First
quarter
2011
Fourth
quarter
2010
% change prior quarter First
quarter
2010
% change prior year quarter Year
2010
             
Revenue 21,138 19,406 9 % 18,145 16 % 75, 754
             
Earnings before financial items and tax (EBIT) 5,855 768 >100 % 985 >100 % 3,184
Items excluded from underlying EBIT (4,408) (180)   (297)   167
Underlying EBIT 1,448 588 >100 % 688 >100 % 3,351
             
Underlying EBIT:          
Bauxite & Alumina 155 113 38 % 162 (4) % 633
Primary Metal 583 86 >100 % (169) >100 % 617
Metal Markets 143 62 >100 % 65 >100 % 321
Rolled Products 232 105 >100 % 223 4 % 864
Extruded Products 105 24 >100 % 117 (10) % 444
Energy 573 482 19 % 588 (3) % 1,416
Other and eliminations (344) (284) (21) % (297) (16) % (945)
Underlying EBIT 1,448 588 >100 % 688 >100 % 3,351
             
Underlying EBITDA 2,415 1,383 75 % 1,440 68 % 6,420
             
Net income (loss) 5,154 658 >100 % 924 >100 % 2,118
             
Underlying net income (loss) 1,244 376 >100 % 401 >100 % 1,852
             
Earnings per share 2.89 0.39 >100 % 0.68 >100 % 1.33
             
Underlying earnings per share 0.65 0.21 >100 % 0.27 >100 % 1.14
             
Financial data:          
Investments 41,625 1,613 >100 % 1,766 >100 % 6,231
Adjusted net interest-bearing debt (20,334) (6,427) >(100) % (16, 939) (20) % (6, 427)
 
Key operational information
Alumina production (kmt) 773 493 57 % 474 63 % 1,976
Primary aluminium production (kmt) 415 360 15 % 339 23 % 1,415
Realized aluminium price LME (USD/mt) 2,358 2,074 14 % 1,997 18 % 2,113
Realized aluminium price LME (NOK/mt) 13,607 12,436 9 % 11,542 18 % 12, 674
Realized NOK/USD exchange rate 5.77 6.00 (4) % 5.78 - 6.00
Metal Markets sales volumes to external market (kmt) 467 417 12 % 414 13 % 1,717
Rolled Products sales volumes to external market (kmt) 245 234 5 % 231 6 % 945
Extruded Products sales volumes to external market (kmt) 136 127 8 % 128 6 % 529
Power production (GWh) 2,308 2,263 2 % 2,781 (17) % 8,144

Pro forma underlying financial and operating results

Key financial information
NOK million First
quarter
2011
Fourth
quarter
2010
% change prior quarter First
quarter
2010
% change prior year quarter Year
2010
     
Revenue 22,815 22,590 1 % 20,788 10 % 87,272
             
Earnings before financial items and tax (EBIT) 1,604 960 67 % 1,018 58 % 3,696
Items excluded from underlying EBIT (66) (119)   (320)   445
Underlying EBIT 1,538 841 83 % 698 >100 % 4,141
             
Underlying EBITDA 2,881 2,213 30 % 1,979 46 % 9,450
             
Net income (loss) attributable to Hydro shareholders 782 745 5 % 779 - 2,220
 
Key operational information
Alumina production (kmt) 1,336 1,448 (8) % 1,394 (4) % 5,805
Primary aluminium production (kmt) 490 475 3 % 447 10 % 1,867


‎Hydro's pro forma underlying earnings before financial items and tax amounted to NOK 1,538 million in the first quarter, up from NOK 841 million in the fourth quarter.
 
Pro forma underlying EBIT for Bauxite & Alumina improved slightly compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 mainly due to increased alumina prices partly offset by higher raw material costs and lower sales volumes. Weak production performance had a negative impact.
 
Pro forma underlying results for Primary Metal included about NOK 50 million relating to Albras in the first quarter compared with NOK 144 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. The decline in underlying results for Albras was mainly due to lower casthouse sales volumes.

About Hydro's reporting

Underlying EBIT

To provide a better understanding of Hydro's underlying performance, the following discussion of operating performance excludes certain items from EBIT (earnings before financial items and tax) and net income. See "Items excluded from underlying EBIT and net income" later in this report for more information on these items.

Acquisition of Vale's aluminium business

On February 28, 2011 Hydro completed the take-over of the majority of Vale's aluminium business in Brazil. Effective from the first quarter of 2011, we are including a new operating segment, Bauxite & Alumina, in our reporting structure in addition to our other five operating segments. In addition to the assets acquired from Vale, Hydro's bauxite and alumina activities previously included in the Primary Metal segment have been transferred to the new Bauxite & Alumina segment and prior periods have been restated. Primary Metal includes the Albras aluminium plant in addition to Hydro's pre-transaction primary aluminium production activities. Effective from the first quarter of 2011, elimination of internal gains and losses on alumina previously included in the Primary Metal segment is included in Other and Eliminations, and prior periods have been restated.
 
The following discussion on reported and underlying operating results includes the acquired bauxite and alumina activities from Vale from March 1, 2011. Amounts relating to previous periods have not been restated to reflect the reported and underlying results of the acquired assets.

Pro forma information related to acquisition of Vale's aluminium business

To provide a presentation of Hydro's performance on comparable basis, certain pro forma financial and operating information is also presented in this report based on including the results of the acquired Vale assets for the full calendar quarter and for all previous periods presented in this report. See "First quarter report 2011" for more information on the acquisition and the pro forma information included in our first quarter report.

Reported EBIT and net income

Reported EBIT for Hydro amounted to NOK 5,855 million in the first quarter including net unrealized derivative losses of NOK 96 million, positive metal effects of NOK 176 million and net transaction related gains attributable to the acquisition of Vale aluminium amounting to NOK 4,328 million. This amount included revaluation gains on Hydro's pre-existing interest in Alunorte and the CAP joint venture.
 
In the previous quarter, reported EBIT for Hydro amounted to NOK 768 million including net unrealized derivative gains of NOK 132 million, positive metal effects of NOK 92 million, insurance proceeds of NOK 90 million relating to the Qatalum power outage and other net negative effects of NOK 134 million comprised mainly of rationalization and closure costs.
 
Net income for the first quarter amounted to NOK 5,154 million including net foreign exchange losses of NOK 30 million. In the fourth quarter net income amounted to NOK 658 million including net foreign exchange gains of NOK 232 million.

Market developments and outlook

Alumina

The alumina market was relatively strong in the beginning of 2011 with increased prices due to higher demand. Platts alumina spot prices started the quarter at USD 372 per mt and ended around USD 404 per mt, representing a range of roughly 15-16 percent of LME. (Due to existing sales contracts, Hydro has limited volumes available for sale for the next few years. As a result, short-term alumina market developments have limited influence on Hydro's earnings for this period.)
 
Global demand for alumina excluding China was slightly higher in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter. This was mainly due to ramp-up of new and restart of curtailed primary aluminium production capacity. Annualized demand and production of alumina both amounted to about 84 million mt. Only limited portions of the curtailed alumina capacity has been restarted. The alumina market is expected to be relatively tight in 2011 due to refinery production problems and the start-up of additional primary aluminium production capacity.
 
Alumina demand and production in China increased in the first quarter compared to the previous quarter, mainly due to the commissioning of new primary aluminium production and alumina projects. Increased domestic capacity resulted in China importing less alumina.

Primary aluminium

LME prices continued to increase in the first quarter. Average three-month prices started the quarter at a level of around USD 2,500 per mt and ended around USD 2,630 per mt. Demand and supply of primary aluminium in the world outside China was relatively stable in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter amounting to an annualized consumption and production of 25.3 million mt and 26.2 million mt respectively. We expect demand to increase by 7 percent for 2011 to around 26 million mt. The market is still expected to be in a manageable surplus for 2011.
 
Production in China increased in the first quarter by almost 10 percent compared to the previous quarter, while demand was seasonally lower. In the fourth quarter many Chinese smelters were curtailed to meet energy saving targets. Most of these smelters have been restarted during the first quarter. We expect the Chinese primary aluminium market to be largely balanced for 2011.
 
LME stocks increased by 0.3 million mt to around 4.6 million mt during the quarter which is believed to partly reflect unreported metal moved into reported warehouses. Demand for metal products (extrusion ingot, sheet ingot, primary foundry alloys and wire rod) remained stable with no significant change from the previous quarter in most regions except for normal seasonal effects. Demand in Southern Europe showed some signs of weakening.

Rolled products

Consumption in the European rolled products market increased seasonally in the first quarter of 2011 compared to fourth quarter of 2010 and was further supported by improved end-use demand. We expect a robust growth in demand across most end-use market segments in 2011 with the exception of the building and construction segment which has shown signs of weakening.

Extruded products

European demand for extruded aluminium products exhibited a seasonal increase in the first quarter. Demand remained weak within the building and construction sector, in particular in southern Europe. Demand in the engineering and transport industries continued to improve in most European markets. However, margins came under pressure as European extruders shifted capacity from the weak building and construction sector to other market segments.
 
In North America demand improved compared with the fourth quarter of 2010, and was also higher than the first quarter of 2010 primarily driven by strong transport and automotive segments. Developments in South America continued to be positive, especially in Brazil, and the outlook remains positive. Demand for precision tubing continued to be strong in the quarter, driven by strong demand for premium cars.
 
The European and US extrusion markets are expected to be seasonally stronger in the second quarter. Recovery in the building and construction segment is expected to remain slow.

Energy

Nordic electricity spot prices started the quarter at very high levels driven by the dry hydrological situation. However, lower than normal demand, milder weather, higher imports and stable Swedish nuclear production put downward pressure on prices which declined in January and stabilized for the remainder of the quarter. Reservoirs remain at historical low levels in many areas, and uncertainties including concerns about future nuclear production in Germany and the effect of the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa on oil supplies, are expected to limit the downside for spot prices.
 
Water reservoir levels in Norway declined to about 18 percent by the end of the first quarter. This is almost 20 percentage points lower than normal and more than 8 percentage points lower than the same period in 2010.

Additional factors impacting Hydro

Hydro has sold forward substantially all of its primary aluminium production for the second quarter at a price level of around USD 2,450 per mt. This includes expected volumes from Albras, but excludes expected volumes from Qatalum.
 
Hydro has hedged the majority of the net aluminium price exposure in the business acquired from Vale until the end of 2011 at about USD 2,400 per mt.
 
Hydro will start up 15,000 mt of annual primary aluminium capacity at its Sunndal 3 production line in June this year. Conditional on continued satisfactory market conditions, Hydro's ambition is to resume full production at the Sunndal 3 line by the end of 2011.
 
Hydro's water and snow reservoirs were lower than normal at the end of March, but higher than the end of the corresponding period last year. Production in second quarter 2011 is expected to be seasonally lower than in first quarter.

Bauxite & Alumina

Underlying EBIT for Bauxite & Alumina was positively influenced by higher LME-linked alumina prices and the inclusion of the acquired bauxite and alumina activities from Vale from March 1.

Primary Metal

Underlying results for Primary Metal improved significantly during the quarter compared to the fourth quarter mainly due to higher realized aluminium prices, higher realized premiums and lower fixed costs. Positive developments were partly offset by higher raw material costs. Underlying EBIT also included results from the Albras smelter acquired from Vale from March 1, 2011.
 
Primary aluminium and casthouse production and casthouse sales volumes increased compared to the fourth quarter mainly due to the inclusion of Albras from March 1, 2011, and increased volumes from Qatalum.
 
Our USD 300 per mt cost improvement program targeted to reach USD 175 per mt by the end of 2011 continued according to plan.
 
Underlying results for Qatalum improved during the quarter mainly due to higher realized aluminium prices. Underlying results for the quarter included NOK 145 million of insurance proceeds relating to the power outage at the plant in August 2010 compared with NOK 210 million in the fourth quarter.

Metal Markets

Underlying EBIT for Metal Markets increased in the first quarter due to positive currency effects and improved operational performance.
 
Excluding currency and ingot inventory valuation effects, underlying EBIT for Metal Markets improved in the quarter. Production from remelt operations was relatively stable compared to the fourth quarter, but higher margins contributed to increased results. Increased sales volumes for resale of third party products made a positive contribution to underlying results for the quarter. Compared to the previous quarter, sourcing and trading activities delivered lower results.

Total metal product sales excluding ingot trading increased reflecting seasonally higher shipments of all products in all markets.

Rolled Products

Underlying EBIT for Rolled Products improved substantially compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 mainly due to higher shipments and increased margins. Operating costs per mt declined compared to the previous quarter and were stable in absolute terms. Energy costs increased due to higher prices while maintenance costs were lower.
 
Shipments for all of our business sectors were up, supported by continued good demand and a normal increase in business activities from the seasonally lower fourth quarter. Automotive applications and other packaging and building products in particular showed significant improvement. Volumes for can beverage, thin gauge foil and general engineering also increased while lithography shipments were stable. Overall margins were higher, in particular for general engineering applications.

Extruded Products

Underlying EBIT for Extruded Products improved compared with the fourth quarter of 2010 mainly due to lower operating costs and seasonally higher volumes. Positive developments were partly offset by lower volumes from our high-margin building systems operations and somewhat lower margins for our European extrusion operations. Demand for building systems in southern Europe was particularly weak during the quarter.
 
Our precision tubing business delivered strong underlying results in the quarter compared to the fourth quarter. Underlying EBIT improved significantly for our north American business in the first quarter and our south American extrusion operations continued to deliver solid underlying results compared to the fourth quarter.

Energy

Underlying EBIT for Energy increased compared to the previous quarter due to higher spot prices, higher net spot sales and lower transmission costs. Cold winter weather and the tight hydrological balance resulted in high spot prices during the period.

Other and eliminations

Underlying EBIT for Other and eliminations amounted to a charge of NOK 344 million in the first quarter compared with a charge of NOK 284 million in the previous quarter and a charge of NOK 297 million in the first quarter of 2010. Eliminations, mainly comprised of unrealized gains and losses on inventories purchased from group companies amounted to a charge of NOK 157 million in the first quarter, compared with a charge of NOK 19 million in the previous quarter, and a charge of NOK 162 million in the first quarter of 2010.
 
Underlying results for the fourth quarter included year-end adjustments for employee and pension costs.

Items excluded from underlying EBIT and net income

To provide a better understanding of Hydro's underlying performance, the items in the table below have been excluded from EBIT and net income.
 
Items excluded from underlying EBIT are comprised mainly of unrealized gains and losses on certain derivatives, impairment and rationalization charges, effects of disposals of businesses and operating assets, as well as other items that are of a special nature or are not expected to be incurred on an ongoing basis.
 
Linked to the acquisition of Vale S.A.'s aluminium businesses on February 28, 2011, the transaction involves certain one-time gains and losses affecting the results in the first quarter 2011. These transaction related effects are excluded from underlying EBIT.

Items excluded from underlying net income
NOK million First
quarter
2011
Fourth
quarter
2010
First
quarter
2010
Year
2010
         
Unrealized derivative effects on LME related contracts 79 (162) (253) 489
Derivative effects on LME related contracts (Vale Aluminium) 42 55 - (166)
Unrealized derivative effects on power contracts (40) 151 272 609
Unrealized derivative effects on currency contracts (1) (20) 23 (50)
Unrealized derivative effects on raw material contracts 16 (156) - (156)
Metal effect, Rolled Products (176) (92) (314) (560)
Significant rationalization charges and closure costs - 131 (19) 130
Impairment charges (PP&E and equity accounted investments) - 12 61 187
Pension - - - (151)
Insurance compensation - (91) - (91)
Impairment (Qatalum) - (16) - 98
(Gains)/losses on divestments - (7) (67) (74)
Transaction related effects (Vale Aluminium) (4,328) - - -
Items excluded from underlying EBIT (4,408) (180) (297) 167
Net foreign exchange (gain)/loss 30 (232) (468) (513)
Calculated income tax effect 467 129 241 80
Items excluded from underlying net income (3,911) (282) (523) (266)

Finance

Financial income was lower in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter due to lower cash positions. Interest expense increased in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter due to debt assumed relating to the Vale transaction. In addition, the fourth quarter included a credit to interest expense relating to tax claims in Germany.
 
The net currency loss in the first quarter included losses on financial positions denominated in USD amounting to NOK 167 million. Other net currency gains amounted to NOK 137 million, mainly on intercompany balances denominated in EUR.

Tax

Income tax expense amounted to a charge of NOK 608 million in the first quarter compared with a charge of NOK 401 million in the previous quarter and a charge of NOK 605 million in the first quarter of 2010.
 
For first quarter of 2011 income tax expense was 11 percent of pre-tax income. The low tax rate results from a tax-free gain on the revaluation of Hydro's previous ownership interests in Alunorte and the CAP joint-venture project recognized in the quarter.

Pro forma information

Underlying EBIT and EBITDA First quarter 2011 Fourth quarter 2010 First quarter 2010 Year
2010
  EBIT EBITDA EBIT EBITDA EBIT EBITDA EBIT EBITDA
                 
Bauxite & Alumina 237 725 223 693 205 643 1,225 3,061
Primary Metal 592 1,137 230 808 (203) 320 816 3,006
Metal Markets 143 168 62 88 65 91 321 428
Rolled Products 232 342 105 226 223 335 864 1,318
Extruded Products 105 237 24 162 117 252 444 987
Energy 573 600 482 502 588 623 1,416 1,540
Other and eliminations (344) (328) (285) (266) (297) (285) (945) (889)
Underlying EBIT / EBITDA 1,538 2,881 841 2,213 698 1,979 4,141 9,450

Bauxite & Alumina

Pro forma underlying EBIT for Bauxite & Alumina improved slightly compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 mainly due to increased alumina prices partly offset by higher raw material costs and lower sales volumes. Weak production performance had a negative impact.
 
Higher realized alumina prices driven by higher LME prices had a positive influence on underlying EBIT, but was partly offset by lower sales volumes. Alumina production declined from the fourth quarter due to operational disruptions in the older part of the Alunorte refinery. The decline was also influenced to some extent by reduced bauxite production at Paragominas and consequently lower bauxite deliveries to Alunorte.
 
Energy costs increased due to higher coal and oil prices. In addition lower utilization of the coal boilers in the Alunorte refinery required a higher relative consumption of more costly fuel oil. Costs for caustic soda increased due to higher prices, partly offset by lower consumption per mt.
 
Bauxite costs increased somewhat during the quarter mainly due to planned maintenance activities. Operating costs at Paragominas increased due to increased energy prices and higher maintenance costs. Bauxite production at Paragominas declined, mainly due to maintenance and a temporary shut-down of the bauxite slurry pipeline for a planned inspection.
 
Underlying results from our commercial operations declined from fourth quarter due to significantly lower external sales volumes compared with high volumes in the fourth quarter in 2010.

Primary Metal

Pro forma underlying results for Primary Metal included about NOK 50 million related to Albras in the first quarter compared with NOK 144 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. The decline in underlying results for Albras was mainly due to lower casthouse sales volumes which amounted to around 100,000 mt in the first quarter compared with roughly 130,000 mt in the fourth quarter.
 



Certain statements included within this announcement contain forward-looking information, including, without limitation, those relating to (a) forecasts, projections and estimates, (b) statements of management’s plans, objectives and strategies for Hydro, such as planned expansions, investments or other projects, (c) targeted production volumes and costs, capacities or rates, start-up costs, cost reductions and profit objectives, (d) various expectations about future developments in Hydro’s markets, particularly prices, supply and demand and competition, (e) results of operations, (f) margins, (g) growth rates, (h) risk management, as well as (i) statements preceded by “expected”, “scheduled”, “targeted”, “planned”, “proposed”, “intended” or similar statements.

Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, these forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions and forecasts that, by their nature, involve risk and uncertainty.  Various factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from those projected in a forward-looking statement or affect the extent to which a particular projection is realized.  Factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to: our continued ability to reposition and restructure our upstream and downstream aluminium business; changes in availability and cost of energy and raw materials; global supply and demand for aluminium and aluminium products; world economic growth, including rates of inflation and industrial production; changes in the relative value of currencies and the value of commodity contracts; trends in Hydro’s key markets and competition; and legislative, regulatory and political factors.

No assurance can be given that such expectations will prove to have been correct.  Hydro disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


Updated: November 27, 2013