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Here Comes Alcoa...And a Bleak Earnings Season
CNBC.com | April 09, 2012 | 02:49 PM EDT

Actually, several companies have already reported. In fact, when you think about it, earnings reports are constantly rolling out here or there. Because most companies follow a quarterly calendar, however, the number booms in the month after a quarter's end. For organizational purposes, you've got to start somewhere, and so the business journalism world goes with Alcoa (it's at the beginning of the alphabet after all).

You can expect a downcast report from the company. As our resident stock guru Jim Cramer recently pointed out , Alcoa has some supply glut issues to deal with, thanks to China.

Overall the experts are saying we can expect a bad-to-flat earnings season all around. Given debt problems in Europe, growth slowing in Asia, and the pickup in commodity and energy prices, that shouldn't be much of a surprise.

Typically, when a company's bottom line suffers, it cuts its way to a profit. But given all the chopping companies did in response to the Great Recession, there isn't much left to cut these days — at least on a wide scale. Of course, there are some individual exceptions (like Yahoo and Sony).

Maybe that will end up being the somewhat silver lining in this bleak earnings outlook: No more cutting, just widespread hunkering down. Or, dare we hope, some moves by certain outfits to roll the dice, invest in operations and people, and grow their way to profits?

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