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(Alcoa item updated with further detail from the Deutsche Bank research note.)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Alcoa ( AA) shares continued to march higher from 52-week lows reached last summer, spiking 5% on the first trading session of 2011 after a receiving an upgrade from a sell-side analyst at Deutsche Bank ( DB).

In a note released Monday, metals and mining analyst Jorge Beristain lifted his rating on Alcoa stock to buy from hold. He based the bullish call on an improved outlook for the global aluminum market and on "a belief that Alcoa has turned the corner from an operational point of view."

The analyst recalibrated his Alcoa valuation, raising his 12-month price target to $22 from $14. Alcoa shares were changing hands Monday morning at $16.11, up 72 cents, or 4.7%, on volume of more than 15 million shares. Average daily turnover is 24 million. Since Alcoa stock drifted to its 52-week lows under $10 in July, the stock has risen more than 60%.

Alcoa had struggled amid the recession far more than producers of other industrial metals, most notably copper. Copper has ballooned to record highs based largely on demand from China and tight supplies as mines around the world become less productive. Aluminum, on the other hand, has not had such supply constraints.

Beristain now believes that Chinese aluminum producers could cut back on their output and that new aluminum exchange-traded funds scheduled to launch this year could reduce inventories of the metal. Should either or both situations develop, the price of aluminum would gain traction. Alcoa stock trades in tandem with the price of its eponymous product.

"Alcoa's laggard status has piqued investor interest in the name as a possible comeback play for 2011, and given signs of operational stability, we don't disagree," Beristain wrote in his note.

In 2010, Alcoa shares lost 7%, underperforming the broader market as well as other metals extractors. By comparison, copper juggernaut Freeport McMoRan ( FCX) saw its stock rise 43% in 2010.

Beristain said Alcoa's "downstream" businesses (or those that produce finished aluminum products like soda cans or sheet metal for Boeing's ( BA) Dreamliner) could bring in another $4 billion in additional revenue by 2013, or about 32 cents per share in earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization.

The boost would come from expanded market share, new products, and planned capacity hikes at several of its manufacturing facilities, as detailed by Alcoa to investors and analysts, Beristain said.

As for Alcoa's "upstream" businesses, Beristain sees the company adding EBITDA of 26 cents per share by 2015 as it extracts gains from rising global prices. The company's upstream divisions sell primary aluminum and raw alumina, which together make up two-thirds of the company's EBIDTA.

Alcoa has made a concerted effort in 2010 to heighten its transparency and to communicate more clearly with its institutional investor base. In November, for example, the company convened its first investor meeting since 2006.

Beristain appeared to base much of his bullishness on detail provided by Alcoa executives during that meeting. Wall Street has been waiting since early last year for a so-called bullwhip effect to juice Alcoa's profits.

Beristain believes the time has finally arrived: His "key take" on the November meeting, he said in his research note Monday, is that Alcoa "has emerged from the crisis reshaped and streamlined" and "is now entering the harvest period for prior capital investments." He noted that Alcoa spent billions of dollars between 2006 and 2009 to expand its production capacity.

If Beristain's research allows him to peg a price target on Alcoa shares of $22, we ask readers of TheStreet to handicap the company as well, by answering the question Where will Alcoa trade by the end of 2011? Take our poll below to see what other investors think -- and don't hesitate, of course, to leave a comment that explicates the rightness of your outlook.

Where will Alcoa trade by the end of 2011?

Less than $15
Between $15 and $20
Between $20 and $25
More than $25

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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