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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Market Update - July 14, 2010 - Investor X

July 14th, 2010 
Investor X 

The earnings season started off with a big bang yesterday as good news from Alcoa sent the markets rallying. Aluminum and copper use is so widespread and spans so many industries, especially the construction industry, many analysts view Alcoa’s performance as being indicative of the overall health of the economy. So, what was the good news reported from Alcoa? 

Alcoa cut 37,000 jobs, aluminum prices have dropped 20% in just the past three months as demand has dropped off a cliff, China has significantly reduced its purchases of aluminum and analysts estimated that Alcoa’s earnings would be 20 cents a share. Alcoa reported earnings of 13 cents per share or 35% below analyst’s expectations. As a result of this good news, Alcoa’s stock price charged ahead by nearly 4.5% at yesterdays opening. 

You say, “What is so good about that news?” Oh, I forgot to mention that the 20-cent analyst expectation was the expectation reported last month. During the past month however, analysts have been busy reducing their expectations by 40% so by the time Alcoa reported its earnings of 13 cents per share, analysts expectations were 12 cents. This beat analyst’s expectations by a penny and that is the good news that was the catalyst for yesterday’s rally in the markets. This just goes to prove that if you lower the bar far enough, any bad news can become really good news. 

The reduction of analyst expectations before earnings are reported is a game that has been played on Wall Street for years. However, a 40% reduction in one month is a tad much wouldn't you say? If aluminum is a proxy for the overall health of the economy going foreword, what is the real message being broadcast here? In my opinion, it is showing weakness in the overall economy and that will become apparent by other numbers and statistics as they are reported. Stay tuned; we may be watching a whip saw unfolding here. 


Investor X

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