Something important is going to take place when Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) reports its first-quarter earnings on Wednesday. Beyond that, it's going to be pretty quiet on the earnings front in the abridged trading week that lies ahead. Sure, you've got Alcoa (NYSE:AA), SunTrust Banks (NYSE:STI), and Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) announcing their financials, too, but a lot is riding on what Yahoo! has to say. How can it not?

The dot-com bellwether has thrived on different ends of the millenniums. In the 1990s, it was the poster child for the eyeball chasers. In 2001, the company had a brief stumble, as its core of online advertisers cratered in the dot-com crash, but the company quickly transformed into a bona-fide provider of premium Web-enabled services and became the ideal marketing channel for offline advertisers.

So, save for those few red-inked periods three years ago, Yahoo! has been consistently profitable. It's not a question of whether or not the Internet portal will earn money, but rather how much money?

A hit or a miss can quickly send the market -- and not just technology stocks -- moving one way or the other. Yahoo! has grown organically, but has never shied away from making some monster acquisitions.

Last year, it produced $339 million in free cash flow on $1.6 billion in revenue. At the time of its last report, it guided investors to expect operating profits for the March quarter to come in between $150 million and $170 million on revenue between $475 million and $505 million.

Most of the Internet companies that have stuck around have earned their keep. Some, like eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), have earned favorable stock recommendations in our Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter. But now it's Yahoo!'s turn to speak. We'd better listen.

Where do you think Yahoo!'s earnings will come in this week? Is it really important to the market as a whole, or can the market trade on its own beyond the dot-com bellwether? Will it be threatened by Google's new email service? All this and more -- in the Yahoo! discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz already has Wednesday flagged on his calendar. He knows the power of Yahoo! However, he does not own shares in any company mentioned in this story.