NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) is still working its way back to full strength. But with the company's year-to-date stock gains of 21%, Alcoa is making 2013 look like a distant memory. Let's recall, this is the same company that was kicked out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average
Alcoa investors aren't taking chances. With shares now up 65% from their October low, investors are anxious for some confirmation that Alcoa won't lose its luster. Deutsche Bank analyst Jorge Beristain still has a sell recommendation on the stock, with a price target of $5.50. This suggests a 48% decline from Friday's closing price of $12.63 and Monday's price of $12.56 as of 11:30 a.m.
Alcoa will report first-quarter earnings results Tuesday. Although the Street is warming up to the idea of better pricing environments, there's still a "wait-and-see" attitude. Management deserves credit for making productivity improvements and navigating a brutal aluminum pricing market. But that's as far as it goes. Analysts like Beristain don't reward feel-good stories. They want growth. And that's what's going to propel this stock forward.
On Tuesday the street will be looking for 5 cents in earnings per share on revenue of $5.59 billion. This would represent a year-over-year revenue decline of 4.2%, with a 54% decline in earnings per share.
These two metrics hit at the heart of what investors fear the most. But there's more to it than that.