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Norsk Hydro: profit down as prices fall, costs rise

( - Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro posted a drop in first-quarter profit on Wednesday, but said it remained "optimistic" about the long-term prospects for aluminium.

Hydro's underlying earnings before financial items and tax reached 559 million Norwegian kronor in the quarter to March, down from 3.15 billion Norwegian kronor in the same quarter last year.

The drop was largely due to lower realized aluminium prices, higher raw material costs and the effects of cutbacks in production at its Brazilian Alunorte alumina refinery, the group said.

Citing current market uncertainties and industry-wide profitability challenges, Hydro said it plans to conduct a strategic review of its rolled products division and ensure stricter financial discipline and higher earnings.

Norsk Hydro shares rose 3% at 32.1 Norwegian kronor on Wednesday after these comments, significantly outperforming the Oslo market, which was up just slightly (+0.3%).

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