Alcoa loss smaller; outlook is sunnier

DENVER -- Alcoa kicked off the earnings season by posting a net loss for the first quarter on hefty one-time charges, but says prices and demand are improving for aluminum products.

Alcoa reported a net loss of $201 million, or 20 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $497 million, or 61 cents a share, a year ago. Alcoa's most recent results include $295 million in one-time charges related to the health care reform law and the permanent closure of two smelters.

Revenue rose nearly 20 percent to $4.9 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who don't include special charges, expected earnings of 10 cents a share and revenue of $5.24 billion. Alcoa operates a smelter near Goose Creek in Berkeley County.

Alcoa is the first company in the Dow Jones Industrial average to issue earnings. Its performance can reflect economic trends because of its diverse customer base, which ranges from aerospace and construction to electronics and beverage cans.

Google upgrading online offerings

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Google has upgraded its online package of word processing and spreadsheet programs so they work even more like the Microsoft applications with which they're competing.

The changes introduced Monday include several editing tools for word processing and quicker ways to fill cells in spreadsheets. The new features have long been staples in Microsoft's widely used Office suite of software.

Google Inc. has been trying to lure users away from Microsoft Corp.'s products for several years in an effort to siphon revenue from one of its biggest rivals.

The main distinction between the two programs is that Google hosts its applications over the Internet while Microsoft's software is typically installed on individual computers.

Private equity firm acquiring DynCorp

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- DynCorp International, which has helped train the national police in Afghanistan, said Monday that it is being bought out by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management for $1 billion. The deal includes debt which pushes its total value to $1.5 billion.

A recent decision to shift control of the training program in Afghanistan from the State Department to the military may bring to a close the contract that DynCorp has held since 2003. The company is challenging the decision. Under the deal announced Monday, DynCorp also gets 28 days to seek competing bids.

Tribune deal DOA, some creditors say

DOVER, Del. -- Lenders who say they are owed more than $3.6 billion by Tribune Co. are calling a purported global settlement that the media company announced last week "dead on arrival." The creditors said in a court filing Monday that the announcement of the deal was premature and misleading.

Tribune had described the deal as key to emerging from bankruptcy protection by settling potential claims related to an $8.3 billion leveraged buyout engineered by real estate mogul Sam Zell that left the company mired in debt.

Tribune publishes the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and other daily newspapers and owns TV and radio stations.