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Why Alcoa Inc.'s Shares Rose Over 22.5% in February

By Reuben Gregg Brewer - Mar 7, 2016 at 11:50AM

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Is the market finally starting to see the value hidden in Alcoa, or is it just a commodity price rebound?

A Boeing plane in flight. Image source: Alcoa.

What: Alcoa (AA) saw its stock price advance a hefty 22.5% last month. It's still down around 7% for the year, but what drove the big one-month jump?

So what: The real story at Alcoa is its pending breakup into an aluminum maker and a specialty parts company. And there was some good news on this front last month: The company reached an agreement with activist investor Elliott Management that should help pave the way for the planned breakup. But that wasn't the only good thing that happened at Alcoa.

Alcoa also inked a deal with Boeing (BA 5.64%) to supply parts for that airline manufacturer's 777X, 737 MAX, and 787 Dreamliner aircraft. These are some of Boeing's newest planes and position Alcoa well for the future. Indeed, once Boeing picks a supplier, it's loath to change -- in other words, Boeing and Alcoa are teaming up for the long haul, and this isn't the only deal the two have together. Moreover, for Alcoa, the Boeing deal is further proof that its moves on the specialty parts side are paying off.

But there was also some positive news on the aluminum side of things. This business has been retrenching for years in the face of falling commodity prices. However, in February, aluminum prices moved higher. That isn't to suggest that Alcoa's legacy business is out of the woods yet, but the metal's price advance certainly won't hurt anything.

Now what: If Alcoa popped up on your screens because of the swift one-month move, don't get too excited. The story is still a long-term one that involves breaking itself in two, probably later this year. There are a lot of moving parts, which this monthly gain helped to point out. But if you take the time to dig into the big story, you might find you still like Alcoa's prospects -- even if February's big gain doesn't really change that tale too much.

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