NEW YORK (TheStreet) – Alcoa (AA) - Get Alcoa Corp. Report , the largest aluminum producer in the U.S., is on a winning streak. Helped by an improved economy and a rebound in global aluminum demand, Alcoa posted 2014 stock gains of more than 46%, with no signs of slowing down.
Alcoa has placed huge bets, many of which have begun to pay off. These bets include its recent buys into the aerospace industry, which gives Alcoa access to higher-margins businesses, while also diversifying its product portfolio.
So if you've thought about locking in some profits and selling Alcoa stock ahead of the company's fourth-quarter earnings results Monday, think again. With the company accelerating its aerospace transition and projecting strong growth through the next four years, Alcoa's stock is one to have in your portfolio.
Wall Street will be looking for Alcoa to deliver earnings of 25 cents per share on revenue of $5.99 billion, representing year-over-year growth of 525% and 7.3%, respectively. Investors shouldn't get too excited about the earnings surge, however.
While that 525% year-over-year jump looks great on paper, it also includes $1.7 billion non-cash goodwill impairment charge Alcoa took in last year's fourth quarter to address legacy issues in its Primary Metals business and charges incurred from the Bahraini bribery scandal. This means Alcoa had a low bar to jump in this year's fourth quarter.
Nonetheless, one quarterly performance won't come close to describing where Alcoa has come from in the past three years. Since its stock bottomed at around $7.70 in August 2013 it has roared back by as much as 130% to $17.75.
The company has been able to offset weak markets for less-processed aluminum by focusing on areas including specialized metals for the automotive and aerospace industry.
Alcoa is a now a leader in lightweight, high-performance metals, which has attracted the attention of Ford (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report and Boeing (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report . Both companies have begun to use more aluminum more in their vehicles and jets. Part of Boeing's interest in aluminum is because of Alcoa's entry into aerospace.
In December Alcoa announced it would to buy Germany-based Tital, which specializes in titanium and aluminum structural castings for aircraft engines and airframes.
In an interview at the time with TheStreet's Jim Cramer on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street,", Alcoa Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said the Tital deal is "Alcoa's next step in building a powerful aerospace growth engine.” And regarding the company's product portfolio and profit potential, "We're adding more titanium and bringing our commodity business down," Kleinfeld said.
In July, the company picked off Firth Rixson, a U.K.-based maker of jet-engine components for $3 billion. Firth's position as the world’s largest supplier of seamless rings for aero-engines also gives Alcoa an additional source of revenue with its rings and metal products business.
These deals plus Alcoa's various cost-cutting initiatives to improve its bottom line and raises its investment profile.
Analysts have taken notice. The stock has a high 12-month price target of $25, suggesting additional gains of 57% from current levels of around $15.90.
TheStreet Ratings team rates ALCOA INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate ALCOA INC (AA) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, increase in net income, good cash flow from operations and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: AA Ratings Report
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.