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As the month comes to a close, the height of earnings season is just about over. But that doesn't mean that you should stop paying attention, because sometimes, the last ones to the party bring the most exciting news.
Tomorrow, two more members of the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) will give us their spin on how the economy has affected their businesses and what they see for their future. With the markets anxiously awaiting news from Europe and wanting signs of economic strength, what these companies say could make or break the Dow's performance for a lot longer than just tomorrow.
Let's take a closer look at the companies that are issuing earnings reports tomorrow.
ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM )
Big Oil giant ExxonMobil reports tomorrow, and analysts see the company extending its streak of quarterly earnings growth to eight straight reports. Investors expect to see the company post $1.95 per share in earnings, up from $1.85 per share a year ago. Yet Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) missed estimates last week on weakness in its refinery operations. That has some wondering if Exxon could follow suit and miss as well.
It's easy to focus solely on headline numbers like Exxon's huge revenues, which have been well above $100 billion in every quarter so far for 2011. Bear in mind that sales and profits are well off 2008's record highs, which came during oil's run to almost $150 per barrel before its monumental collapse. But in the long run, it's probably better to see Exxon post consistent numbers even if they're slightly lower than those record levels.
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE )
Pharma stocks aren't seeing the same growth as the rest of the market, and Pfizer is no exception. Analyst estimates call for the pharma bellwether to have earned $0.47 per share, flat from a year ago.
What you should look at more closely, though, is how the company does now that Lipitor has come off patent. The company is doing its best to maintain sales of the hit drug, cutting prices on name-brand Lipitor. Moreover, with only limited competition from Watson Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: WPI ) and Ranbaxy Labs for the first six months, Pfizer won't feel the full impact yet. But whatever impact it does have should give shareholders a clue of what's to come.
Make a strong finish
Even as companies post their earnings, don't tune out on your stocks. News happens between quarterly reports as well, and often it's that news that makes stocks move the most.
But keep in mind -- there are plenty of other companies out there that investors need to watch during this earnings season. In the Fool's "Fourth-Quarter Earnings Report: 7 Stocks You'll Want to Watch," you'll find information on this quarter's possible big performers. It's completely free for our readers, so click here to access your free report today.