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Earnings Kickoff: Alcoa's Big Beat

There was a lot of gloom going into the week about earnings season. And Alcoa was supposed to kick off the economic dirge. But guess what? The metal company turned a profit, even though no one thought it would.

Now, when a company surprises Wall Street like that, business folks start asking if it was something specific to the company or something bigger that a lot of companies can benefit from. In Alcoa’s case, analysts noted it made about the same amount of revenue as last year, even though aluminum prices declined … so worldwide demand must be up and things in general might be turning around.

But Alcoa’s bright spot was also due to some company-specific moves as well. As its CEO noted on CNBC, it’s been focusing on keeping costs in line.

Is it a good omen for the rest of earnings season? We'll find out next week, when a dozen Dow components and nearly a fifth of the S&P 500 report.

Photo: Greg Pease | Stone | Getty Images