updated 7/8/2005 8:12:22 AM ET 2005-07-08T12:12:22

Alcoa Inc., one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, said Thursday that its second-quarter profit rose 14 percent as results were boosted by its sale of an interest in a Norwegian metals business and tax benefits.

The Pittsburgh-based company reported second-quarter earnings of $460 million, or 52 cents per share, up from $404 million, or 46 cents per share, during the same period a year ago. Excluding restructuring charges, the sale of the Norwegian metals company, Elkem, tax benefits and other items, Alcoa said it would have earned 44 cents per share, or 46 cents per share from continuing operations.

During the quarter ending June 30, sales rose 13 percent to $6.76 billion, up from $5.97 billion a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected a profit of 45 cents per share on sales of $6.64 billion for the April-June period.

Alcoa said sales growth was driven by higher volumes and its acquisition of fabricating facilities in Russia. But it also recorded $29 million in losses from the integration of the new Russian facilities, due to integration costs, market softness and the costs of initiatives to shift to higher value-added products.

Alcoa also said it was helped by the finalization of certain tax reviews and audits resulting in a benefit of $120 million and by the sale of the company’s shares in Elkem for a $219 million after-tax profit.

“We achieved the highest quarterly income and revenues in Alcoa history,” Alcoa Chairman and CEO Alain Belda said. “We delivered strong results and took necessary steps to restructure, control costs and lay the framework for solid performance over the long term.”

Alcoa and its competitors have been affected as spot aluminum prices failed to meet projections. In response, the company last month announced it would close some operations and eliminate 6,500 jobs globally over the next year as part of a restructuring aimed at saving the company $150 million per year.

Although those steps were seen as helping profit in the second half of the year, analysts were concerned about Alcoa’s second-quarter earnings.

Alcoa shares rose 2.8 percent, or 74 cents, in late trading after closing the regular session at $26.09, 9 cents higher, on the New York Stock Exchange. Company shares hit a two-year-low in trading Tuesday. The stock dropped to $25.90 at one point during trading, a level not seen since July 2003.

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