Earnings season is winding down, with most companies already having reported their quarterly results. But there are still some companies left to report, and Abraxas Petroleum (NASDAQ:AXAS) 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.

Abraxas is a small, independent oil and gas company, with assets scattered across the middle of North America in places including Alberta, the Permian Basin, and the onshore Gulf Coast. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Abraxas Petroleum over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report on Friday.

Stats on Abraxas Petroleum

Analyst EPS Estimate


Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$18.24 million

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will Abraxas Petroleum generate some energy this quarter?
Analysts have gotten less optimistic about Abraxas Petroleum's earnings prospects in recent months. They've worsened their original break-even estimate for the just-ended quarter by a penny per share, and they've cut $0.04 per share off their full-year 2013 views. But since early December, the stock has done well, rising 16%.

For years, Abraxas struggled to break into the big leagues among small independent oil and gas companies. With its assets scattered across North America, it was hard for the company to focus on any one area, despite having promising locations like the Eagle Ford among its holdings.

Last year, though, Abraxas decided to concentrate on the Bakken, spending the bulk of its capital expenditure budget in the area and the nearby Niobrara and seeking to sell off most of its Eagle Ford and Alberta assets. In doing so, Abraxas hopes to follow the same game plan that brought Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE:KOG) to profitability, as Kodiak has greatly increased its production from the greater Williston Basin area to send revenue soaring. Northern Oil & Gas (NYSEMKT:NOG) achieved similarly attractive results from its strategy to concentrate in the Bakken.

In the past quarter, Abraxas has had some positive news. Back in November, it doubled its production guidance for 2013, with an implied growth rate of 21%-28%. More recently, Abraxas came out with its operational update last month, showing good growth in oil and gas-liquids reserves during 2012 at the expense of natural-gas capacity.

In its quarterly report, watch for Abraxas to comment on its ongoing transition toward more lucrative oil and liquids, as well as how its chosen wells in the Bakken and its remaining Eagle Ford assets are performing. If all goes well, Abraxas could see some of the same success that has vaulted its peers higher over the years.

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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 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.