Will Alcoa’s Loss Be Our Gain?

Alcoa, the aluminum giant, kicked off the third-quarter earnings season this morning by laying an egg: revenue and earnings were lower than expected.

A bellwether company for the industrial sector, Alcoa (NYSE: AA) was down about 10% in early afternoon after posting earnings of 32 cents per share, vs. analysts’ consensus estimate of 35 cents per share.

While there were plausible reasons for the disappointment – including lower-than-expected profits from automotive and aerospace customers due to a tough pricing environment – it didn’t help the mood of a market already in a defensive crouch because of the impending rise in interest rates, expected in December.

Stocks also tanked because the dollar rose, harming the prospects of exporters already vulnerable to slow economic growth in China and Europe.

The market’s mood seems a bit gloomier these days, in part because investors are having trouble justifying the relatively high valuations on a lot of stocks. That could produce some nice bargains for us in the coming weeks. I’m rolling up my sleeves, identifying buy targets in case of a selloff, and keeping my brokerage account bookmarked.

In the short term, bears will be looking for confirmation of their pessimism from other earnings announcements in the coming week. If global companies like IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Lennox International (NYSE: LII) disappoint, look for more selloffs.

And if you’re looking for buy targets of your own, here are just a few of the enticing investments we’ve recommended for our subscribers recently.