The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has gained a modest six points in pre-market trading, suggesting a flat start to the stock market today. Stocks are down slightly at the kick-off of the first-quarter earnings season: the Dow is 2% lower so far in 2014, while the Nasdaq has had a rougher start, dropping by 2.3%.


Look for those numbers to start swinging as Alcoa (NYSE:AA) unofficially begins earnings season this afternoon. Analysts expect the former Dow component to post a 5% sales decline, to $5.55 billion, for the first quarter. Profit should come in at $0.05 a share, about half what the aluminum giant posted last year. Investors will focus on Alcoa's outlook for the full year, which could see a boost from increased aluminum demand in the auto industry as Ford and other car makers ramp up their use of the metal in new models. Look for Alcoa's report to come out shortly after 4 p.m. EDT.

Meanwhile, news is breaking this morning on several stocks that could see heavy trading in today's session, including voxeljet (NYSE:VJET) and IMAX (NYSE:IMAX).

Voxeljet shares were down 3.4% in pre-market trading after the 3-D printing company announced a large secondary stock offering. Voxeljet aims to raise $70 million through the issuing of additional shares, which works out to roughly 20% of the company's current market capitalization. For reference, voxeljet only carried $46 million in cash on its books as of the end of last year. The company said the extra $70 million will be used to fund research and development and to expand its service centers around the world. Still, shareholders are suffering a huge dilution of their ownership stake in exchange for a stronger balance sheet.

IMAX said today that it has sold 20% of its China business to a locally managed investment fund. But the sale wasn't done for the $80 million in cash that IMAX will gain from the deal. Instead, having Chinese ownership should allow IMAX to eventually list that business in an initial public offering, which will help fund its aggressive expansion plans in the country. Big-budget films are performing very well in China lately, and while IMAX has doubled its screen count in the country to 173 theaters since 2011, today's move only makes it more likely that that screen count will jump over the coming years. IMAX's stock was up 1.8% in pre-market trading.

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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and Imax. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford and Imax. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.