Bellweather Alcoa kicks off US earnings with rise in net income

ALCOA, the largest US aluminium producer, reported an increase in quarterly profit yesterday, helped in part by a stronger performance by its alumina and primary metals segments despite a tough market.

Alcoa, the first of the S&P 500 companies to report quarterly results, maintained its forecast for seven per cent growth in global aluminium demand this year. Even so, its shares slipped one per cent to $8.30 in trading after the bell.

Net income rose to $149m (£97.6m), or 13 cents a share, from $94m, or nine cents, a year earlier. Revenue slipped three per cent to $5.8bn. Excluding restructuring charges and other items, earnings rose to $121m, or 11 cents a share, from $105m, or 10 cents.

Alcoa is viewed as a bellwether for the materials sector, and some look to it for hints on the health of the broader economy. A strong earnings season could send US equity markets to new highs, but disappointing results could halt a rally that has already slowed.

Recent growth has come thanks to Alcoa’s downstream business. Indeed, in the first quarter, earnings also rose in the engineered products and solutions segment, which sells cast metal products like aluminium wheels and aircraft parts.

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