Earnings season is now starting to wind down, with most companies already having reported their quarterly results. But there are still some companies left to report, and Chicago Bridge & Iron (NYSE:CBI) is about to release its quarterly earnings report. The key to making smart investment decisions with stocks releasing their quarter 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.

Behind every big construction project, there's an engineering company, and Chicago Bridge & Iron has taken advantage of opportunities around the world to use its construction-related expertise. With a big acquisition, Chicago Bridge & Iron is looking to play a bigger role in the industry overall. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Chicago Bridge & Iron over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report on Wednesday.

Stats on Chicago Bridge & Iron

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 Chicago Bridge & Iron build itself up this quarter?
Analysts have been optimistic about Chicago Bridge & Iron, holding their fourth-quarter estimates unchanged but raising their full-year 2013 consensus by more than $0.50 per share. The stock has also been soaring, with a better than 35% jump just since mid-November.

The big news for Chicago Bridge & Iron in the past quarter was the completion of its merger with the Shaw Group. The combination has the potential to make CB&I an even bigger force in the rapidly growing energy infrastructure engineering and construction business, where huge oil and gas finds in hard-to-reach places has opened up a wealth of opportunities across the industry.

Already, CB&I has reaped rewards for its energy concentration. Last week, the company got a contract for more than $180 million from Hyundai to help build a deepwater spar platform for Statoil (NYSE:STO). With Statoil looking to build its offshore presence not just in the Norwegian Sea but around the world, future partnerships with CB&I could play a big role in expansion for both companies.

With the merger, CB&I will now challenge Fluor (NYSE:FLR) for leadership in the engineering industry. Both companies sport huge backlogs that give them a big advantage over smaller players in the industry like McDermott and Foster Wheeler. Yet if the consolidation trend continues, CB&I and Fluor could end up having to deal with a new combination of rivals that proves big enough to pose a true competitive threat.

In its report, watch for CB&I to go through the details of the synergies and expansion opportunities that it expects now that the Shaw acquisition is complete. The faster CB&I integrates its new business, the better off investors will be.

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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 recommends Statoil. The Motley Fool owns shares of Fluor. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.