Can Alcoa Shine Brighter in 2013?

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As December comes to a close, 2013 is just around the corner, and it's a good time to look at the future prospects for the stocks you own. If you don't know where a company's headed in the next year and beyond, then it's impossible to make an informed decision about whether you should add the stock to your portfolio -- or sell it if you already own it.

Today, I'll look at Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) . Alcoa has been a member of the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) since 1959, but many skeptics wonder whether it really should remain in the Dow, given its low share price and market capitalization. With the stock coming off a lackluster 2012, have conditions gotten so bad in the aluminum market that things can only get better? Read on for more about Alcoa's prospects for 2013.

Stats on Alcoa

Average stock target price


Full-year 2012 EPS estimate


Full-year 2013 EPS estimate


Full-year 2012 sales growth estimate


Full-year 2013 sales growth estimate


Forward P/E


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Can Alcoa finally recover?
From the analyst perspective, Alcoa looks to have a strong 2013. With expectations of a big rebound in earnings and revenue, the current target price implies a better than 20% gain for the stock.

The big question Alcoa has to answer to become more successful is how to make current and future customers commit to aluminum for the long haul. Manufacturers of equipment where weight is a major issue, including Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) , Ford (NYSE: F  ) , and Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) , have plenty of incentive to stick with the lightweight metal. For Ford, aluminum can help it meet fuel efficiency standards, while Tesla must extend the range of its all-electric vehicles to make ordinary consumers accept them as viable transportation options. And as for Boeing, weight and strength will always be an issue, especially for larger aircraft like the 787 Dreamliner.

Yet Alcoa also needs help from global economic growth. As Fool contributor Sean Williams predicted last year, Alcoa had to cut costs and deal with an inventory glut of aluminum that slow growth in China wasn't able to use up. Still, some are more hopeful that Alcoa could rebound even with substantial supplies of aluminum available in inventory. If economic expansion finally reaccelerates in 2013, Alcoa may finally get the tailwinds it needs to succeed.

Alcoa is tiny compared to the behemoths in the Dow. But given the right conditions, 2013 might be a shining moment for the aluminum company.

Don't stop here
Alcoa truly has potential to benefit from a recovery in aluminum, with nearly 15% of 2011 global production putting it in prime position to take advantage of growth that some expect will lead to total industry revenue approaching $160 billion by 2017. Based on this prospective and several other company-specific factors, Alcoa may well be a buy at these depressed levels. Read our in-depth premium research on Alcoa to learn more; simply click here to get started.

Click here to add Alcoa to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

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