Alcoa Inc shares rose more than 4 percent on Thursday after the aluminum producer reported its first profit in a year in what Wall Street viewed as a bellwether of how industrial companies are recovering from the recession.

Five investment banks -- Citigroup, Desjardins, UBS, RBC and S&P Research -- raised Alcoa's target stock price, one day after the company surprised the financial community which had expected it to report a fourth consecutive loss.

The stock rose 65 cents to $14.85 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Alcoa, the first member of the Dow Jones Industrials <.DJI> to report results for the latest quarter, attributed the profit to cost-cutting and higher aluminum prices.

The company, which has curtailed metal production by more than 20 percent and cut its workforce by about 30 percent since the economic downturn began a year ago, also said there were signs that key markets are stabilizing.

Currently, analysts expect Alcoa to report a 6-cent-per-share profit in the fourth quarter and a loss of 83 cents per share for the full year 2009, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

One analyst, Anthony Rizzuto of Dahlman Rose, revised his earnings estimate for 2009 to a loss of 81 cents a share from a loss of $1.10 per share. But he lowered his earnings estimate for full year 2010 to a profit of 35 cents per share from 50 cents a share.

Given the aluminum realization that the company experienced during the third quarter of 2009, we would have expected somewhat higher earnings, and free cash flow, but we believe that Alcoa continues to struggle with margins in its upstream and downstream businesses, given stubborn costs and weak end-market demand, Rizzuto wrote in a research note.

(Reporting by Steve James, editing by Dave Zimmerman)