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. 

Joel South, Taylor Muckerman, and The Motley Fool have no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.