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U.S. EQUITIES WEEK AHEAD: Alcoa Kicks Off Earnings Season

By Nathalie Tadena Industrial bellwether Alcoa Inc. (AA) will report its second-quarter results Monday, signaling the unofficial start to U.S. earnings season. Banking giants J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) are also due to release their latest results next week. In a light week for economic-data releases, the U.S. Department of Labor will release two inflation reports Thursday and Friday. Alcoa Kicks Off Second-Quarter Earnings Season Second-quarter earnings season kicks off next week with the release of Alcoa's results on Monday. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Alcoa, the top U.S. aluminum producer, to report a decline in earnings and revenue. The company's bottom-line results have suffered in recent periods amid lower aluminum prices and higher costs for energy. Alcoa has said it would contend with sluggish aluminum prices--a result of weak demand in Europe, global uncertainties and excessive production--by cutting costs, limiting production and relying more on high-margin end products less vulnerable to slumping metal prices, such as bolts and wheels for cars and airplanes. J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo to Release Results Two banking bellwethers--J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo--are set to release their latest results Friday morning. Analysts project J.P. Morgan to post weaker top- and bottom-line results. The company in April reported strong first-quarter revenue as demand for new loans continued to increase and capital-market activity improved; however, profit slipped 3.1%, pressured by legal expenses and debt-related charges. J.P. Morgan in May disclosed a massive trading bet that resulted in a more-than-$2 billion trading loss, arousing scrutiny from Washington lawmakers who have been fighting efforts by big banks to delay or scale back regulations mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul. Meanwhile, analysts expect Wells Fargo, the nation's largest mortgage lender, to report stronger second-quarter profits and revenue. With a smaller capital-markets business than its big bank peers, Wells Fargo is more closely watched in the investment community for its mortgage-banking results. In April, Wells Fargo reported its first-quarter profit rose 13% as a surge in mortgage banking provided a boost and company executives expressed confidence the housing market is approaching a turning point. Other major companies scheduled to report quarterly results next week include hotel operator Marriott International Inc. (MAR), auto and home insurer Progressive Corp. (PGR) and industrial hardware-supply company Fastenal Co. (FAST). Price Reports, Trade Balance Due On Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department will report the U.S. trade deficit for May. The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in April, as a sharp pullback in imports and exports to the euro zone suggested the region's troubles increasingly are washing up on U.S. shores. The U.S. Labor Department will release June data for import prices and producer prices on Thursday and Friday, respectively. The price of goods imported into the U.S. posted their biggest drop in May in nearly two years last month, dragged down by falling oil prices. Meanwhile, the Producer Price Index, which measures the price of goods at the wholesale level, posted its steepest drop in May in nearly three years. Wholesale prices are one measure of inflation, and frequently a decline will lead to a drop in prices for consumers, which already have seen prices fall. Dynegy Holdings to Seek Permission to Merge Into Parent Company Dynegy Holdings LLC will seek permission to merge into its parent, which sought court protection Friday, as part of its exit from bankruptcy. The proposed merger into publicly traded Dynegy Inc. (DYN) is called for in a wide-ranging settlement that brought creditors on board with Dynegy Holdings's payment plan after an investigation into the two companies' dealings threw the case into chaos. That investigation found that a prebankruptcy move of Dynegy Holdings's coal-fired power plant assets to its parent represented a fraudulent transfer that potentially could be unwound in litigation. The move put the assets out of the reach of Dynegy's creditors. If approved at Monday's hearing in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., court papers show the merger would wipe out all claims between the two companies, including the potential lawsuit Dynegy Holdings could bring against its parent for the asset shuffling. Dynegy Holdings recently won court approval to send its payment plan to its creditors for a vote, and the company will ask the court to approve the plan itself at a hearing in early September. Sun Valley Conference to Be Held Next Week Top executives from the media and technology industries will gather next week at boutique investment bank Allen & Company's annual event in Sun Valley, Idaho. Sun Valley, the long-running conference where blockbuster media deals have been cut over the years, will be held July 10-14. Other major conferences taking place next week include the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Health Care Conference on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.; the UBS Energy Conference Wednesday and Thursday in New York and the JMP Securities Healthcare Conference Thursday and Friday in New York. --Jacqueline Palank and Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this article. Write to Nathalie Tadena at nathalie.tadena@dowjones.com

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