Kicking off 2012’s corporate earnings reports in the States, the firm lost $193m (£125m), or 18 cents per share, on continuing operations.
Nonetheless, the firm remains upbeat with forecasts of soaring demand over the next decade.
The loss compares with a profit of $176m, or 15 cents pre share, in the final quarter of 2010.
Excluding restructuring and other charges, the loss stood at $34m, or three cents per share.
However, the results were not as bad as feared, and shares rose six cents to $9.48 in after-hours trading.
Revenues were down seven per cent compared with the third quarter, but up six per cent on the same period of 2010, to $6bn.
Alcoa has forecast growth of seven per cent in global aluminium demand over 2012, and believes demand will double by 2020.
The first results of the quarter follow on the heels of dimming analyst expectations across the stock market. On 30 September, analysts projected that fourth-quarter earnings at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index would grow 14.1 per cent, according to Bespoke Investments. By 3 January, the growth estimate had fallen to just 6.2 per cent.