Well, earnings season is now unofficially under way, as Alcoa has posted earnings. During the third quarter, the metals firm earned 63 cents per share ($555 million) compared to earnings of 61 cents per share ($537 million) a year ago. Taking discontinued operations out of the mix, AA earned 64 cents per share, up from 62 cents per share a year ago. AA announced that sales dropped to $7.4 billion from $7.6 billion a year ago. Expectations called for earnings of 65 cents per share on sales of $7.4 billion. Heading into this afternoon's report, AA had added 3.7% to finish the day slightly below the 40 level.

AA also announced that it plans to buy back up to 25% of its outstanding shares. The original plans called for a buyback of 10% of the stock. The aluminum producer stated that it has already bought back 5% of its shares this year. This increased buyback gives AA the chance to purchase an additional 174 million shares, which would be worth $6.9 billion based on today's closing price. According to the company, it has more than $1.3 billion cash on hand.