Alcoa reported a loss of $312 million, or 32 cents a share, well ahead of analysts’ estimates of a loss of 38 cents a share – but down from its year-ago profit of 66 cents per share. The giant aluminum producer is the first component of the bellwether Dow Jones Industrial Average to report its second-quarter performance, marking the beginning of the U.S. corporate earnings season.
Overall, earnings expectations are bleak. The companies that make up the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index are expected to post declining profits for the eighth consecutive quarter, a 36% decline, according to Thompson Reuters.
Alcoa’s performance was a result of cost-cutting measures undertaken by the company.
“At first glance it looks constructive. They were able to do better than expected from cost savings. Year-over-year production is down, and down sequentially as well, but it looks like they were able to contain costs,” Brian Hicks, co-manager of the U.S. Global Investors Inc. (Nasdaq: GROW) natural resources fund, told cable-TV channel CNBC.
Upcoming earnings reports are likely to be similar to Alcoa’s – not as bad as expected, but still losses.
Companies are cutting costs across the board to boost their bottom line, but this will give stocks – at best – only a limited boost. Analysts say that until Alcoa and the other sector leaders start recording actual increases in sales and profits, stocks will remain locked in a narrow trading range, and prices will be volatile.
“BNY ConvergEx Group LLC, told CNNMoney.com.,” Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at
While Alcoa marks the beginning of the earnings season, most other companies won’t report for another two weeks – leaving the market in “wait-and-see” mode until more definitive reports give the market some direction.
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