Earnings season is winding down, with most companies already having reported their quarterly results. But there are still some companies left to report, and Diana Shipping (NYSE:DSX) is about to release its quarterly earnings. 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.

Diana Shipping has had to endure a terrible environment for shipping companies, although it has done a better job than many at staying profitable. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Diana Shipping over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report on Thursday.

Stats on Diana Shipping

Analyst EPS Estimate

$0.09

Change From Year-Ago EPS

(64%)

Revenue Estimate

$49.7 million

Change From Year-Ago Revenue

(13%)

Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters

4

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will Diana Shipping stay afloat this quarter?
Analysts have had mixed views on Diana over the past few months. They've kept their estimates stable for the just-ended quarter, but they've doubled their loss estimates for the full 2013 year to $0.16 per share. The stock, though, has jumped more than 25% on hopes that the worst may be coming to an end for the industry.

Diana Shipping and its peers have had to endure levels on the Baltic Dry Index near all-time lows. For some big players in the industry, the drop in shipping rates has pushed share prices to the brink, with both DryShips (NASDAQ:DRYS) and Eagle Bulk Shipping (NASDAQ:EGLE) having lost 98% of their share value just since early 2008. By comparison, the 75% to 80% losses that Diana shareholders have sustained seem pretty tame, but unlike Eagle Bulk and DryShips, Diana has managed to stay profitable even during the worst of times in the industry, and that has earned it a premium valuation compared to its weaker peers.

The big question facing Diana, though, is whether its profitability can last. Analysts expect further revenue contraction this year, and with a potential year-over-year drop of 27% in sales during the first quarter of 2013, Diana could see red ink as soon as the current quarter. Still, with a relatively strong balance sheet, Diana is in better shape than most shipping companies to weather the current stormy conditions in the industry.

In its quarterly report, watch to see how Diana discusses its recent time-charter contract with Cargill. The deal only involves a single Capesize vessel, but if management uses it as an example of better times to come, then shareholders may respond favorably in hopes of a broader rebound for Diana.

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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 has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.