updated 1/11/2010 5:02:04 PM ET 2010-01-11T22:02:04

Alcoa reported a smaller net loss for the fourth quarter Monday, though revenue shrank with no improvement in its aerospace, commercial building and gas turbines businesses.

The company, based in Pittsburgh, reported a net loss of $277 million, or 28 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.19 billion, or $1.49 per share, during the same period last year.

Alcoa said free cash flow turned positive for the first time since the second quarter of 2008, however.

The company's quarterly report signals the beginning of the earnings season for S&P 500 companies and it can be a sign of things to come.

Analysts on Monday were looking for better sales from Alcoa Inc. after a year in which major corporations salvaged profits with severe cost cuts.

Revenue fell from $5.68 billion to $5.43 billion.

Alcoa reported results after the market closed and shares tumbled 6 percent, or $1.05, to $16.40 in aftermarket trading.

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