Trucks were a gigantic part of the call, too. I was shocked at the growth here, and it might have been the real standout of the evening. Heavy trucks are now expected to grow 5% to 9% in the U.S. Last quarter, Alcoa predicted just 1%-to-5% growth, and that caused Paccar (PCAR) and all of its derivatives to hiccup. Alcoa's orders were extremely strong here, up 35% from the first quarter of 2013, and backlog is now at 114,000 trucks, up 36% year over year. Commercial trucking building in Europe has improved -- from expectations of down 6% to 9% to negative 1% to 5%. China remains strong at 16.3% production.
Finally, building and construction showed a nice lift, up 3% to 4% in the U.S. It was down 2% to 3% in Europe -- a new negative -- but China was steady at 7% to 9%.
There are no real takeaways here, but orders for aluminum did pick up with the better weather in the U.S., as it was too cold to pour concrete for much of this country in the first part of the quarter.There are other elements of the quarter to consider, as well. For instance, cans declined in the U.S. -- that's the decrease in carbonated beverages -- but they remain strong in both Europe and China. Buy Coca-Cola (KO), perhaps? Turbine construction continues to weaken as natural gas prices rise around the world, making coal much more economic. Takeaway? Continue to buy Norfolk Southern (NSC), Union Pacific (UNP) and the recently uber-downgraded CSX (CSX), precisely the best way to play this trend. All in all, there is so much like here, both in worldwide growth and in share take from steel to more highly value-added aluminum. That latter item is, besides the closing of inefficient mills, the biggest reason for Alcoa's truly gigantic earnings surprise of 9 cents per share vs. the 5-cents consensus. Moreover, Kleinfeld predicts that the price of aluminum can finally start rising because of the supply curtailments worldwide. If that actually does happen, who knows how high the stock can go? At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, was long HON, GM, CMI and ETN. Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 7:48 a.m. EDT on Real Money on April 9.
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