Aurubis made a €52 million ($70.8 million) net loss for its fiscal first quarter on a maintenance outage at the Hamburg smelter and several "unpredictable" market factors, it said on Thursday February 13.

The Germany-based copper producer achieved revenues of €2.8 billion in the quarter ended December 31, down from €3.4 billion a year earlier, as copper, gold and silver prices dropped 10%, 26%, and 36% respectively.

The company signalled the unexpectedly weak revenues and earnings in a profit warning earlier this month, in which it said that it would report an operating loss of €2.5 million, down from an operating profit of €140 million a year earlier.

Aurubis uses the operating earnings metric to assess the underlying performance of the business by stripping out the impact of metal price movements and other factors from headline profits or losses.

In its previous earnings report, Aurubis said its operating earnings would continue to be strained by tight scrap supply, weak sulphuric acid markets, and a lower metal yield arising from the Hamburg outage.

“Nevertheless, we expected a positive result,” Aurubis ceo Peter Willbrandt said earlier this month.

“We had expected a relatively weak first quarter. However, earnings were strained by certain factors whose effects couldn’t be predicted,” he said on Thursday.

Aurubis expects to see continued strong supply and attractive smelting margins in the copper concentrates market, as well as a slight improvement in copper scrap supply, it said in its forecast for the rest of its fiscal year.

“There is a relative shortage of copper cathodes, which should fundamentally support copper prices. We expect our copper product sales to increase due to more stable demand,” the company said.

“There is no significant improvement in sight on the sulphuric acid market,” it said.

“Overall, we expect our earnings level in the current fiscal year to exceed the previous year,” Willbrandt said.

Mark Burton
Twitter: @mburtonmb