Alcoa (NYSE:AA) may have led off the American earnings season with a walk, but foreign base metal companies are shining brilliantly.

Russian Norilsk Nickel (OTC BB: NILSY) mines more of its namesake metal than anyone else in the world, even mighty Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (NYSE:RIO). Norilsk also produces the most palladium, which belongs to the "bling" family of metals. The miner's reach extends far beyond Siberia, thanks to a controlling stake in Stillwater Mining (NYSE:SWC) and its takeover of LionOre earlier this year.

Nickel was fittingly the star of the Norilsk show, accounting for 68% of first-half revenue. The average sale price for nickel soared 158% on Asian demand for stainless steel. Naturally, top- and bottom-line results went bonkers in the first half, up 82% and 177%, respectively.

Oh, but how things have changed. That LionOre acquisition came when nickel was trading around a record $50,000 per ton. Now that the metal's price has fallen by around 40%, the deal's looking like some very poor timing on Norilsk's part. I've previously noted the risk that value from these late-cycle deals can go up in smoke.

Meanwhile, Vedanta, the parent of Global Gains pick Sterlite Industries (NYSE:SLT), holds a dominant position in India's copper, zinc, and aluminum markets -- or "aluminium," as the colonists would say. We didn't get an earnings report from Vedanta this week, just some stellar production figures. Aluminum output rose 25%, mined zinc rose 15% to a record high, and a record amount of copper was smelted in India.

As the saying goes, whoever smelted, dealt it. And it looks like Vedanta, and by extension Sterlite, have dealt shareholders a mighty fine quarter.

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