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Alcoa expected to report dip in adjusted earnings

NEW YORK (AP) -- Alcoa Inc. kicks off another earnings season when it reports first-quarter results Monday after the markets close.

Analysts are expecting the big aluminum manufacturer to say that first-quarter earnings per share were down a bit from last year.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Alcoa has struggled with the sluggish global economy and weakness in the industrial sector since the 2008 recession. Weak aluminum prices have been a drag on the company, which mines and refines aluminum and rolls it out into sheets and other products used by a variety of industries.

Lately two big end markets for aluminum — U.S. car sales and commercial airplanes — have shown renewed life. Alcoa would benefit if the construction industry perked up.

The company's shares could use the help. New York-based Alcoa's stock has been among the weakest in the Dow Jones industrial average since the index hit bottom in March 2009. Alcoa shares have slipped about 5.7 percent so far this year, while the Dow is up 11 percent.

WHY IT MATTERS: From cars and planes to soda cans, aluminum is all around us, making Alcoa an economic bellwether. Alcoa's status as the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report results each quarter adds attention.

Investors will glean the results for hints about earnings for companies in other industries.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts expect Alcoa to report adjusted earnings of 8 cents per share on revenue of $5.91 billion, according to a survey by FactSet.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: Alcoa posted net income of $94 million and adjusted earnings — excluding restructuring costs and other items — of 10 cents per share on $6.01 billion in revenue.