With EPS expectations set at the bare minimum of $0.00, all Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) needed to do was spin a profit in the third quarter of 2012 to "surprise." Fortunately for Alcoa, it did, but only on an adjusted basis. Casting environmental remediation and lawsuit costs aside, it earned $0.03 a share for investors. Revenues for the quarter took a 9% slide versus the same period a year ago, which management attributed to the much-publicized Chinese slowdown.
Alcoa's bleak outlook also weighed on mining heavyweights BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP ) and Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO ) , which were both down on the day as well. As the early barometer for each earnings season, let's hope others can turn the tide and provide the market with some positive news in the coming weeks.
Like Alcoa, Caterpillar is typically viewed as "market mercury." It, too, provides unique insight into overall global growth because it is the market share leader in an industry in which size matters, and its quality products, extensive service network, and unparalleled brand strength combine to give it solid competitive advantages. Ahead of earnings, read all about Caterpillar's strengths and weaknesses in our brand-new report. Just click here to access it now.