Century Aluminum swings to net loss of US$31.1M in Q4 from year-ago period's profit of US$65.3M on sales of US$318.2M, up 0.4%; Q4 2010 benefited from changes to retiree medical benefits program that increased results by US$56.7 million, company says

MONTEREY, California , February 23, 2012 () – Century Aluminum Company (NASDAQ: CENX - News) reported a net loss of $31.1 million ($0.35 per basic and diluted common share) for the fourth quarter of 2011. Financial results were positively impacted by an unrealized gain on forward contracts of $2.4 million primarily related to the mark to market of aluminum price protection options. Cost of sales for the quarter included a $6.3 million charge for lower of cost or market inventory adjustments.

For the fourth quarter of 2010, the company reported net income of $65.3 million ($0.65 per basic and $0.64 per diluted common share). Financial results were negatively impacted by an unrealized loss on forward contracts of $5.6 million primarily related to the mark to market of aluminum price protection options and by a contractual termination pension benefit charge of $4.6 million due to the continued curtailment of the Ravenswood facility. Changes to the Century of West Virginia retiree medical benefits program increased quarterly results by $56.7 million with an associated discrete tax benefit of $2.0 million. Cost of sales for the quarter included a $15.9 million net after-tax charge for the portion of power costs at Hawesville paid by the previous power supplier per the terms of the power agreements.

For 2011, the company reported net income of $11.3 million ($0.11 per basic and diluted common share). Financial results were negatively impacted by a $7.7 million charge in the second quarter related to the contractual impact of changes in the company's Board of Directors and the executive management team, a charge of $2.9 million related to an insurance receivable, and a charge of $0.8 million related to the early retirement of debt. Changes to the Century of West Virginia retiree medical benefits program increased results by $18.3 million with an associated discrete tax benefit of $4.2 million. An unrealized gain on forward contracts, primarily related to the mark to market of aluminum price protection options, positively impacted results by $0.8 million. Cost of sales included an $8.6 million charge related to the restart of a curtailed potline at the Hawesville, KY smelter, and a $19.8 million charge for lower of cost or market inventory adjustments.

For 2010, the company reported net income of $60.0 million ($0.59 per basic and diluted common share). Financial results were negatively impacted by an unrealized loss on forward contracts of $10.0 million primarily related to the mark to market of aluminum price protection options and by a contractual termination pension benefit charge of $4.6 million due to the continued curtailment of the Ravenswood facility. Changes to the Century of West Virginia retiree medical benefits program increased results by $56.7 million with an associated discrete tax benefit of $2.0 million. Tax benefits related to the release of tax reserves no longer required positively impacted results by $2.1 million. Cost of sales included a $63.2 million net after-tax charge for the portion of power costs at Hawesville paid by the previous power supplier per the terms of the power agreements.

Sales for the fourth quarter of 2011 were $318.2 million compared with $316.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. Shipments of primary aluminum for the 2011 fourth quarter were 155,649 tonnes compared with 148,923 tonnes shipped in the year-ago quarter. Sales for 2011 were $1,356 million compared with $1,169 million for 2010, and total 2011 primary aluminum shipments of 602,142 tonnes compared with 585,395 tonnes shipped in 2010.

"We continue to see generally favorable conditions in our markets," commented Michael Bless, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Trends in end customer demand remain good across a range of key segments. In the U.S., physical premiums remain supportive and interest in higher margin specialty products continues to be strong. The increase in large-user power costs, pervasive across developed economies, is a serious ongoing challenge which is threatening the long-term competitiveness of what would otherwise be very good businesses. We are spending considerable effort to address this challenge to our U.S. smelters. Broader market conditions remain volatile, and will continue to be sensitive to, amongst other developments, the environment in the Eurozone and in the Chinese economy. With this background, we plan to invest in 2012 in growing and improving our businesses, while continuing to prepare for reasonable contingencies.

"We are pleased with the Company's recent performance," continued Bless. "Though we always expect continuing improvement, safety trends have been gratifying these last few months; the Board and I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all employees toward this, our first priority. As forecast, Hawesville returned to near full production by year-end. Key performance indicators have continued to improve, conversion costs have fallen, metal quality has improved and fourth quarter production was up 12 percent versus the third quarter. Across our businesses, we have begun to see some abatement in the recent significant increases in raw material costs. In Iceland, Grundartangi had an excellent quarter, and has fully recovered from the temporary instability caused by the power interruption in early January. In late December, we received the ruling related to the arbitration with one of the power suppliers for the new plant at Helguvik. The ruling was generally favorable to Nordural and we are now in discussions with both power suppliers aimed at reaching, over the next several months, final agreements which will allow us to recommence major project activity."

Century Aluminum Company owns primary aluminum capacity in the United States and Iceland. Century's corporate offices are located in Monterey, Calif. More information can be found at www.centuryaluminum.com.

Century Aluminum's quarterly conference call is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Eastern time today. To listen to the conference call and to view related presentation materials, go to www.centuryaluminum.com and click on the conference call link on the homepage.

Certified Advisors for the First North market of the OMX Nordic Exchange Iceland hf. for Global Depositary Receipts in Iceland:
Atli B. Gudmundsson, Senior Manager -- Corporate Finance, NBI hf.
Steingrimur Helgason, Director -- Corporate Finance, NBI hf.

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