How Did These Companies Kick Off the New Earnings Season?

Earnings season is back! Wall St. Cheat Sheet will be covering an unprecedented number of earnings previews and recaps. We hope you’ll join us for the ride.

Here are the first two big earnings releases of the season:

1) Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) The aluminum producer reported its second quarter earnings today, with net income rising to $322 million (28 cents per share) vs. $136 million (13 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. This is a more than twofold rise from the year earlier quarter. Revenues also rose 27% to $6.58 billion from the year earlier quarter. The company reported net income from continuing operations of 32 cents per share. This fell short of the mean estimate of 33 cents per share. It beat the average revenue estimate of $6.32 billion. Last quarter marked the fifth consecutive quarter of gross margins expanding as the company’s gross margin expanded 1.5 percentage points to 20.3% from the year earlier quarter.

Alcoa Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld spoke to his company’s results, “We turned in another strong quarter, with solid revenue and earnings growth…Although the economic recovery is uneven, the overall outlook for Alcoa – and for aluminum – remains positive,” Kleinfeld said. “Demand for aluminum continues to rise and so does growth in our major markets. These factors support our projection that aluminum demand will grow 12 percent this year and will double by 2020.”

Competitors to Watch: Century Aluminum Company (NASDAQ:CENX), Alumina Limited (NYSE:AWC), Kaiser Aluminum Corp. (NASDAQ:KALU), Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation (NYSE:NOR), and Aluminum Corp. of China (NYSE:ACH).

2) Novellus Systems (NASDAQ:NVLS) also announced its second quarter results today. The company develops, manufactures, sells and supports equipment used in the creation of chips and semiconductors. Net income for Novellus rose to $64.7 million (79 cents per share) vs. $63.3 million (66 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier, with revenues also up 9% to $350.2 million from the year earlier quarter. The company topped the mean estimate of 76 cents per share. Estimates ranged from 75 cents per share to 79 cents per share. Analysts were expecting revenue of $352.3 million. Revenue has risen the past four quarters. Revenue increased 49.6% to $413.2 million in the first quarter. The figure rose 57.4% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year from the year earlier and climbed more than twofold in the third quarter of the last fiscal year from the year-ago quarter

Novellus’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard S. Hill, noted, “We’re extremely proud to have been voted by our customers as one of the two highest ranked semiconductor capital equipment companies among our peer group in VLSI’s 2010 customer satisfaction survey. We achieved this by focusing on the customer experience and continuously improving the technology, productivity and reliability of our tools…We intend to drive further gains and revenue growth with the emergence of 3D NAND and advanced logic applications, all of which are essential building blocks required to enable the growth in cloud computing and storage.”

Competitors to Watch: Mattson Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MTSN), Amtech Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASYS), Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT), Axcelis Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACLS), CVD Equipment Corporation (NASDAQ:CVV), Tegal Corporation (NASDAQ:TGAL), ASM Intl. N.V. (NASDAQ:ASMI), Varian Semiconductor (NASDAQ:VSEA), Lam Research Corporation (NASDAQ:LRCX), and FSI International, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSII).