Aluminium giant Rusal swings to profit in Q1

General view of Rusal's aluminum smelter in Sayanogorsk, Russia, pictured in 2009 (AFP Photo/Alexander Nemenov) (AFP/File)

Rusal, the world's largest aluminium producer, said on Wednesday it swung into the black in the first three months of 2015 thanks to a weaker ruble and cost controls, although it warned weak prices would pose a challenge in future. The Hong Kong-listed Russian company posted a net profit of $228 million in the three months ending March 31, compared with a $246 million loss for the same period last year. "The company's first quarter of 2015 results demonstrate that our strategy to focus on efficiency and our value added products portfolio is paying off," chief executive Vladislav Soloviev said in a statement to the city's bourse. Its operations saw revenue rise 16.7 percent to $2.48 billion while costs were reduced 7.5 percent year-on-year partly thanks to a depreciation in the ruble against the US dollar, the Moscow-based firm reported. The company also decreased its net debt by $213 million in the quarter. "The key factors driving our results were our supply discipline and cost control, strongly supported by local currency depreciation," Soloviev said. The company noted however the industry was facing a "challenging" period with falling prices partly due to rising imports from China and fears over a supply glut. The average London Metals Exchange aluminium price fell 8.5 percent quarter on quarter , with a "downward trend" on product premiums across all key markets, the company said. The "competitive landscape becomes fiercer", Soloviev said.