Alcoa Earnings Beat, Outlook Improves

A worker walks among rolls of semi-finished aluminum at an Alcoa aluminum factory.
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A worker walks among rolls of semi-finished aluminum at an Alcoa aluminum factory.

Alcoa reported an increase in quarterly profit on Monday as performance in its alumina and primary metals segments improved despite a tough market. Revenue, however, fell short.

After the earnings announcement, the company's shares slipped in extended-hours trading. (Click here for the latest after-hours quote.)

"I'm relatively optimistic that 2013 is going to be better than 2012," Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa CEO, told CNBC. "So for us, we continue to project 7 percent demand growth in aluminum."

"When you look at aerospace, automotive, building and construction in the U.S. is coming back, China is performing stably and even Europe… is relatively resilient and muddling through," he said.

For the first quarter, net income rose to $149 million, or 13 cents a share, in the first quarter from $94 million, or 9 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings rose to 11 cents a share from 10 cents a share.

Revenue dropped 3 percent to $5.83 billion from $6.01 billion a year ago.

Analysts had expected the aluminum producer to report earnings excluding items of 8 cents a share on $5.88 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Alcoa unofficially kicks off this quarter's earnings season, which is expected to be fairly weak. The company is often viewed as a bellwether for the materials sector, and some look to it for hints on the health of the broader economy.

Analysts expect earnings for S&P 500 companies to rise by just 1.6 percent, down from 6.2 percent last quarter and lower than a 4.3 percent forecast in January, according to Thomson Reuters.

The quarter also has seen an unusually high number of negative warnings, with 107 negative revisions for companies in the S&P 500. Compared to positive revisions, it is the worst pace in 12 years, the news agency added.