Alcoa shares climb on better-than-expected sales

January 8, 2013: 4:25 PM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Aluminum producer Alcoa marked the unofficial start of earnings season Tuesday by posting sales that beat analyst expectations.

Alcoa (AA) is the first Dow component to report fourth-quarter results. The company posted earnings of six cents a share, in line with expectations, while sales were $5.9 billion, ahead of the predicted $5.6 billion.

Shares rose 2% in after-hours trading.

Alcoa's results are traditionally viewed as the start of earnings season, although most companies don't report until late January and early February, and the firm isn't seen as a bellwether for the broader market.

Overall, fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 3.3% from the fourth quarter of 2011, according to S&P Capital IQ.

Excluding financial stocks, however, earnings are only expected to rise 0.5%, Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG, wrote in a research note Tuesday. He said these muted expectations were driven in significant part by the technology sector, where a number of firms have issued weak fourth-quarter guidance.

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