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Alcoa Steamrolls Estimates

The company's earnings easily top targets, aided by strong metal prices and healthy demand.
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offered an encouraging kickoff to the first-quarter earnings season with a profit that handily beat Wall Street's expectation.

The aluminum producer posted net income of $608 million, or 69 cents a share, up from $260 million, or 30 cents a share, a year earlier.

Earnings from continuing operations totaled $615 million, or 70 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had expected EPS of 51 cents.

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Alcoa's revenue jumped to $7.24 billion from $6.22 billion. Analysts had expected revenue of $7.21 billion.

Both the revenue and profit figures were the highest in the company's history, Alcoa said. The company said the aerospace and commercial transportation markets were particularly "robust" this year.

"We had excellent top and bottom line results, driven by strong demand, favorable metal prices and productivity programs implemented through the Alcoa Business System," said Chairman and CEO Alain Belda in a statement. "Our upstream alumina and primary metals businesses, as well as our downstream engineered solutions -- led by truck wheels, investment castings, forged products and fasteners -- all turned in record performances this quarter."

Belda also said that cost increases have slowed, with the cost of goods sold as a percentage of sales improving 640 basis points from the fourth quarter.

Trading in the company's stock was halted after hours. The Dow component's shares closed regular trading Monday up 33 cents, or 1%, to $32.83.