Earnings season is now starting to wind down, with most companies already having reported their quarterly results. But there are still some companies left, and Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) is about to release its quarterly earnings report. The key to making smart investment decisions with stocks releasing their quarterly reports is to anticipate how they'll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever inevitable surprises arise. That way, you'll be less likely to make an uninformed knee-jerk reaction to news that turns out to be exactly the wrong move.

Abercrombie & Fitch has dealt with the ups and downs of teen fashion over the years, but after a tough year, the retailer has been on the upswing once more during the holiday season. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Abercrombie & Fitch over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report on Friday.

Stats on Abercrombie & Fitch

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change From Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$1.48 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will Abercrombie & Fitch keep its momentum?
Analysts have stayed optimistic about Abercrombie & Fitch's prospects. Although they've only raised their consensus for the just-ended quarter by $0.02 per share over the past few months, they now see the full 2014 fiscal year producing nearly $0.20 per share more in earnings. The stock has fed off that enthusiasm, rising nearly 20% since mid-November.

Abercrombie has been on the upswing largely because of its success in regaining its command of the teen fashion scene. As a Janney analyst noted, Abercrombie improved its conversion rates on Black Friday to a much greater extent than its peers, beating out even American Eagle Outfitters' (NYSE:AEO), longer-term momentum. Abercrombie's success came largely at the expense of rival Aeropostale (NASDAQOTH:AROPQ), where analysts have pushed their earnings estimates down sharply on the theory that shoppers with limited financial resources went to Abercrombie instead.

But Abercrombie still faces some tough headwinds. With considerable exposure to Europe, a weak Eurozone economy hit the retailer hard throughout much of 2012, and it could hinder its overall recovery this quarter as well.

One key to Abercrombie's future will be taking maximum advantage of online distribution. Last quarter, Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) showed the value of emphasizing Internet sales, with gains of 36% helping to boost the retailer's overall results. Abercrombie needs the same push to boost its overall growth to the greatest extent possible.

In its quarterly report, watch for just how much promotional discounting added to Abercrombie's results. If the retailer gets too invested in a race to the bottom, Abercrombie's recent rebound could prove to be short-lived.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter: @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Aeropostale. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.