Alcoa Company Earnings Preview: Uh-Oh

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From those from whom not much is expected, not much is likely to be delivered. The consensus estimate for second-quarter earnings from Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) have dropped about 60% in the past 90 days, from earnings per share (EPS) of $0.14 to $0.06. And even that is not a slam-dunk.

Alcoa’s earnings report marks the beginning of a new earnings season, but there is not much reason any longer to consider the company’s earnings as a bellwether for stocks. The basic materials sector has been hit hard by a slumping global economy coupled with rising production costs.

Aluminum has been particularly hard hit, with prices down about 20% from their 12-month peak and about 47% from their 5-year peak. There is nothing on the horizon that looks to be able to turn that around either. The global supply of aluminum is simply outpacing demand by too much for the price of the metal to do any better than remain flat. And even that will be hard to do.

Alcoa is expected to post quarterly revenues of $5.83 billion, down 2.3% from the second quarter of last year. That, too, is a stretch.

Shares are trading up about 0.7% in the early afternoon today, at $7.86 in a 52-week range of $7.63 to $9.93. The company will do well to hold within that range when it opens for trading tomorrow.