Alcoa Inc., the largest US aluminum producer, kicked off earnings season Monday by reporting a larger first-quarter profit than analysts expected, helped by strong demand for aluminum used to make airplanes and automobiles.
Alcoa is the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report first-quarter results. Because its products wind up in so many things, from cars and buildings to soda cans, investors study Alcoa’s results for hints about earnings at companies in other industries.
Net income rose to $149 million, or 13 cents a share, from $94 million, or 9 cents, a year earlier, the New York company said. Earnings of 11 cents a share beat the 8-cent average analyst estimate.
Sales declined to $5.83 billion from $6.01 billion, missing the $5.88 billion average. Revenue fell to $5.83 billion from $6.01 billion a year earlier, below the $5.91 billion predicted.
US light-vehicle sales in March climbed 3.4 percent to 1.45 million, the best month for the industry since August 2007, according to researcher Autodata. Automakers sold 3.69 million cars and light trucks in the United States this year through March, the most in any quarter since the last three months of 2007.
The auto industry is on track to consume 4 percent more aluminum this year as the average North American car adds 14 pounds of the metal in 2013 compared with last year, according to one analyst.
The company still sees demand for aluminum growing 7 percent in 2013.