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Q1 upturn for Hydro

Norwegian aluminum producer Hydro reports an underlying result before financial items and tax of NOK 688 million in the first quarter 2010, improving significantly from a loss of NOK 651 million in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Hydro says the result reflects increased aluminium prices, reduced costs and higher volumes in a seasonally stronger quarter.

“We have seen rising aluminium prices and a partial demand recovery from previous weak quarters, supported by restocking. But global aluminium stocks remain high, indicating continued production overcapacity,” Hydro’s President and Chief Executive Officer Svein Richard Brandtzæg said.

“The official opening of the Qatalum plant in April was a milestone for an impressive project. At the end of the quarter, 20 percent of the production cells were in operation, and we are on track for full output in the fourth quarter this year. Qatalum will contribute significantly to Hydro’s competitiveness and be an important door-opener to the rapidly growing Asian markets,” Brandtzæg said.

“Overall, we expect demand in our main upstream and downstream markets to grow around 12 percent in 2010. But there is challenging terrain ahead of us, and we will maintain a strong cost focus across our businesses to ensure efficient operations and continous improvements along our value chain,” said Brandtzæg.