I really wish the scribes would be more careful. Yes, the headline stating that Alcoa's (NYSE: AA) shares dropped after the company's sales for the first quarter missed their estimate was correct.

Specifically, Alcoa's sales were $5.96 billion, not the $6.06 billion analysts had been expecting. But its operations cover 31 countries, where it sells aluminum in U.S. dollars and pays its costs in local currencies. As such, the top line shortfall was more closely tied to weakness in the U.S. dollar versus the currencies of such countries as Brazil and Australia than to fundamental difficulties at Alcoa. Indeed, the company's sales for the quarter were up 22% year-on-year and 5% sequentially.

Net income for the quarter at the world's leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum was $308 million, or $0.27 a share, compared with $201 million, or $0.20 a share, in red ink last year. Excluding restructuring costs and items, earnings for the most recent quarter were $0.28 per share, versus the $0.27 consensus among the analysts.

Compared to the first quarter of 2010, the company's end markets all showed significant improvement. For instance, aerospace revenues were up 20%, packaging expanded by 45%, building and construction increased by a somewhat surprising 26%, and commercial transportation was 37% higher.

Looking at the company's results on a segment basis, after-tax operating income from alumina was up fully 118% from the last quarter of 2010.  Primary metals' ATOI increased by 13%, while flat-rolled products, and engineered products and solutions improved from the prior quarter by 53% and 15%, respectively.

Overall, aluminum prices increased 11% during the past year, and the company continues to anticipate a 12% expansion in worldwide demand this year. From a cost perspective, caustic soda -- which is used for the processing of bauxite to alumina, which is then refined into aluminum -- has increased somewhat following Japan's earthquake, tsunami, and other woes.

As CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said regarding his company's prospects, "Our outlook for the rest of 2011 and beyond remains very positive due to the world's growing population, increasing urbanization, and aluminum's advantages as a light, strong and recyclable material."

So the first member of the Dow Jones Industrials has led off and, headlines notwithstanding, has turned in a solid quarter. Next up among aluminum companies will be Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp. (NYSE: NOR) and Kaiser Aluminum (Nasdaq: KALU). But beyond that, we also need to focus on other metals companies, such as Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold (NYSE: FCX), U.S. Steel (NYSE: X) and Nucor (NYSE: NUE). After all, aluminum is becoming progressively more competitive with the metals produced by those companies.

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We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named above.  The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.