It's not a shiny, happy world right now for Alcoa(NYSE: AA). The world's largest aluminum company, and Dow 30 component, reported significantly lower third-quarter results from a year ago.

Including a $23 million after-tax charge, Alcoa earned $193 million, down from last year's $339 million. On a per-share basis, that's $0.23 versus $0.39. Excluding the charge, it met expectations of $0.26, not that that's any meaningful measure of strength for this aching company.

Unsurprisingly, Alcoa's sales have also dropped off compared to last year. For the third quarter, its revenues were $5.22 billion from last year's Q3 sales of $5.51 billion.

Alcoa's in the crosshairs of aluminum prices that are near three-year lows, along with excess capacity worldwide for aluminum. China's making lots of aluminum now, and Russia's ramping up production as well. Put that scenario alongside the economic doldrums felt by many of Alcoa's major customers, and it's hardly a picture of prosperity.

Two of Alcoa's important demand sources, the aerospace and telecommunications industries, are themselves struggling and aren't placing orders like they used to. In an effort to stay lean, Alcoa has scaled back its aluminum production this year. It has already closed one plant for good and is scheduled to shut down another by year's end. The company's hunkering down and hoping things improve, and soon. Unfortunately, it can't stem the excess global production that's combining with weakened demand to drive aluminum prices down.

Once manufacturing starts showing some real strength, Alcoa's results should improve. However, it'll take quite a while for the glut of aluminum to work its way through the market. Until that happens, aluminum prices will remain at their rock-bottom worst. It's likely that shares of Alcoa, close to a 52-week low, will, too.