Aluminum giant Alcoa Tuesday reported a quarterly loss due to heavy restructuring expenses after it shut smelters and rolling mills in response to low aluminum prices. Alcoa said it lost $178 million for the first quarter ending March 31, compared with a profit of $149 million in the year-ago period. The results included $276 million in restructuring costs. The company announced plans to cut smeltering capacity in Australia and Brazil, among other actions. Absent the charges, Alcoa earned $98 million, or nine cents a share, besting analyst forecasts of five cents per share. "Our transformation is accelerating," said chairman and chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld. "We're powering growth in our value-add businesses and aggressively reshaping our commodity business." Alcoa has been trimming back capacity due to an eight percent decline in aluminum prices in the face of global overcapacity of the industrial metal. The company has responded by expanding investment in rolling mills to meet growing demand for lighter metals from an auto industry under pressure to boost fuel economy. The company is also investing to produce premium packaging products. Alcoa continues to forecast seven percent global aluminum demand growth in 2014, with the gains fueled by rising need in aerospace, autos and building and construction. It expects lower demand for industrial gas turbines. Alcoa's earnings are traditionally watched closely by the market as the unofficial opening of the quarterly reporting season. Revenues came in at $5.45 billion, down from $5.83 billion a year ago and below the $5.55 billion forecast by analysts. Alcoa shares rose 2.3 percent to $12.82 a share in after-hours trade.