Alcoa reports surprisingly upbeat resultsAlcoa surprised investors this week, reporting robust earnings.

Alcoa said its net income in its last fiscal quarter was $94 million, representing a $287 million improvement from the prior quarter. The company said strong demand and successful cost reduction initiatives helped bolster its profit margins. Analysts had expected the company to report a second consecutive quarterly drop in profit.

Alcoa chairman and chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld said the company  benefited from improving market conditions. He added officials are increasingly bullish about future growth prospects, although lingering doubts surrounding the economic recovery in the euro zone could hurt demand on the continent.

"Performance rebounded strongly this quarter due to our proactive cash sustainability actions, our relentless focus on profitable growth, and stabilizing markets," he said. "We are successfully executing on our aggressive strategy to move down the cost curve in our upstream businesses, and drive to record profitability in our midstream and downstream businesses. Challenges remain in this economy, but we approach them better prepared than ever before."

Alcoa's revenue in its first quarter also edged up, rising to $6 billion. Though the company said the realized price of aluminum – historically the company's bread-and-butter product – fell 9 percent, an uptick in shipments helped offset the drop.

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