Alcoa Inc (AA), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM): The Dow (.DJI) Kicks Off Earnings Season: What Should You Expect?

It seems as if last earnings season only just ended, but April brings the return of more quarterly reports from your favorite companies. This week launches the first two earnings reports of the Dow Jones Industrial Average‘s most recent quarter, giving investors a look at how aluminum manufacturer Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) and financial titan JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) have been performing. Just what should you be looking for from these two companies?

Alcoa Inc (AA)Alcoa struggles to keep up
Alcoa’s first up to bat on Monday, and investors anxiously await what’s coming. This stock’s done terribly so far in 2013; it ranks as the second-worst year-to-date performance on the Dow, with shares down more than 8% since the start of the year. China’s infrastructure slowdown and slumping aluminum prices haven’t helped Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) find its footing in a bad market, and weak demand has continued to hurt this company’s revenue. Raw-materials stocks like Alcoa are closely tied to the economy, and the slow recovery from the recession in many nations has kept pressure on the sector.

Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) management did predict 7% greater demand for aluminum in 2013, but don’t expect all of that amount to show up on Monday’s results. Average analyst projections expect the company to report earnings per share of $0.10 for the most recent quarter. That’s down $0.03 from earlier expectations, and with projections that revenue will fall more than 1% to $5.93 billion, many experts lack faith in any big surprise from Alcoa.

Until China’s growth picks up and the U.S. economy accelerates, it looks as if it’ll be more of the same from the aluminum manufacturer. Leading economies simply are too sluggish right now to fuel optimism in Alcoa from Wall Street.

However, experts are far more optimistic about JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM)’s results, scheduled to be released Friday. Evercore Partners recently upgraded the bank stock from “equal weight” to “overweight,” and shares have gained more than 7% this year despite pressure over the “London Whale” losses and increased regulatory scrutiny.