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In this April 7, 2006, file photo, Alcoa Warrick Operations employee Fred Westbrook inspects the finished rolls of aluminum as they come off the last stage of the production line in Newburgh, Ind.
In this April 7, 2006, file photo, Alcoa Warrick Operations employee Fred Westbrook inspects the finished rolls of aluminum as they come off the last stage of the production line in Newburgh, Ind.
(Daniel R. Patmore/AP)

Alcoa’s shiny earnings have a dark underside

If Alcoa Inc. is the bellwether for U.S. corporate earnings that it’s cracked up to be, the third-quarter reporting season may deliver the market an Indian summer – a deceptive warm spell serving as a fleeting prelude to a cold winter.

The aluminum giant, whose traditional role as the first major U.S. company to issue its earnings report each quarter has made its numbers a focal point for market watchers, came out late Tuesday with considerably better-than-expected profits: 11 cents (U.S.) a share before one-time items, roughly double the consensus estimate.