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Alcoa Inc (AA): All Eyes on This Company as the Dow Kicks Off Earnings Season

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Earnings season is back, with weeks of quarterly reports on tap for Wall Street to pick apart and analyze. So far, however, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI) is taking a cautious approach to the start of the season: As of 2:20 p.m. EDT, the blue-chip index sits a hair below breakeven. Few Dow members are moving far today, and the first company on the index to report — aluminum producer Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA), which releases earnings after the closing bell today — has barely budged. Let’s get caught up on which way the Dow’s Monday is headed.

Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA)

Eyes turn to earnings
Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA)’s on tap for its earnings call this afternoon, but many analysts aren’t expecting much from a company that’s been hit hard by sluggish economic growth around the world. The stock has slumped considerably in 2013, ranking among the worst Dow members in year-to-date performance as aluminum prices remain under pressure and China’s slowdown hurts the company’s growth prospects. Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA)’s gains of 0.9% today won’t impress anyone, and all eyes are set on the coming earnings report. Analysts expect falling revenue and uninspiring EPS figures.

Other stocks around the Dow are having better days, although no member of the index has lit up investors’ portfolios so far. Two big retail names are headed higher: The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) rank near the top of the Dow with respective gains of 1% and 1.3%. Neither company reports earnings this week, but these firms comprise a tale of two economies. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)’s been hampered by tightening consumer spending and the expansion of the payroll tax; the company’s guidance for this quarter didn’t strike a chord with many industry observers when announced back in February.

Home Depot, meanwhile, is looking to capitalize on a housing market that’s primed to explode as the U.S. population keeps increasing. The stock has jumped more than 10% since the start of 2013, and if home sales pick up the pace, The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) will be in the driver’s seat of the Dow.

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