Industrial giant Alcoa just gave us a warning about China

There’s more bad news about China.

Industrial giant Alcoa on Thursday reported earnings that missed on the top and bottom lines.

But additionally, the company downgraded its expectations for all but one of its major segments in the world’s second-largest economy.

Here’s the breakdown on Alcoa’s China outlook for 2015:

  • Automotive production growth expected to come in at 1%-2%, down from 5%-8%
  • Heavy duty truck and trailer production expected to fall 22%-24%, down from expectations for a 14%-16% decline
  • Commercial building and construction sales are expected to grow 4%-6%, down from 6%-8%

Packaging sales, however, still expected to rise 8%-12% over last year.

And so what we see here with Alcoa is the latest signal that heavy industry in China is slowing down while consumer spending — which would really only directly impact Alcoa’s packaging segment — remains solid.

Last month, Nike gave us a clear picture of a Chinese consumer that is still strong, as the company’s sales in China soared 36% during the third quarter.

Caterpillar, meanwhile, a global bellwether for industrial investment and development, announced layoffs and a reduction in its expectations for equipment sales, citing a “a convergence of challenging marketplace conditions.” In August, Caterpillar’s three-month rolling sales in the Asia/Pacific region were down 29% over the prior year.

As for Alcoa’s overall quarter, it was soft.

Adjusted earnings per share came in at $US0.07, below expectations for $US0.13, while revenue came in at $US5.57 billion, below expectations for $US5.64 billion. Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld chalked this up to, “economic headwinds and significant volatility in some of our markets.”

In after hours trading on Thursday, the stock was down as much as 5%.

Alcoa — which announced plans to break itself into two late last month — is seen as marking the unofficial beginning of earnings season. And with this disappointing report, the company is ushering in something Business Insider’s Sam Ro warned could be coming: a turbulent earnings season.

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