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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 7:06 am

Ahead of the Bell: Alcoa kicks off earnings season

By The Associated Press

Alcoa Inc. is expected to report a first-quarter loss as it kicks off the earnings season after the markets close on Tuesday.

Analysts expect the aluminum manufacturer to post a loss of 3 cents per share. In the year-earlier quarter, Alcoa reported a profit of $308 million, or 27 cents per share.

Alcoa's report should provide insight into how the aluminum industry is coping with a glut of supply, weaker prices and higher costs.

Demand has been weak as China's economic growth slowed and Europe struggles with a debt crisis. Aluminum prices fell during the quarter. Companies like Alcoa have announced cuts in production, but the impact won't be felt until later in the year. The cost of running aluminum smelters and transporting products remains high.

Argus Research analyst Bill Selesky cautioned that Alcoa could slightly miss first-quarter expectations and cut its forecast for a 7 percent increase in global aluminum demand this year. That could be seen by investors as a negative start to the quarterly earnings season, he said.