It's going to be a value meal of earnings in the week ahead with the burger and soda giants posting quarterly results. Want some fries with that? Don't worry. Some other companies are definitely fried.

Want to play my new board game? With Mattel (NYSE:MAT) and Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) kicking off the new week by posting earnings on the same day, why not? It would be the honorable thing to do with the country's two leading toy makers.

OK, this is how you play. Pick a company and then listen to both conference calls. Move forward one space every time that your company mentions that it is optimistic about the upcoming holiday season, has a new plaything that knocked 'em dead earlier this year at the toy show, or feels comfortable in raising its profit guidance. Move back one space every time that it singles out the competition by name, flexes irrational exuberance over its older toy lines, or mentions a lack of visibility in projecting earnings.

Cool? If not, you can always brand this board game a bored game.

If you ran into the 2002 version of yourself -- beyond explaining away the extra few pounds that you may have tacked on -- you would probably throw your earlier self for a loop if you suggested catching up at McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) to enjoy premium salads and chicken nuggets that actually resemble chicken breast meat. Did somebody say McDonald's? You bet. The world's largest fast food chain has reinvented itself and spruced up its income statements thanks to the turnaround efforts of the late Jim Cantalupo. On this day it aims to supersize its quarterly earnings.

Bid thee well eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) as the world's leading auction site comes through with its third-quarter results. As big as the company has been -- eBay helped hook up nearly $30 billion in deals on its site over the past year -- it continues to take even bigger strides. In the June quarter it saw its earnings double as revenues surged 52% higher. While the company took a hit when a software glitch made its PayPal online transactions site temperamental, CEO Meg Whitman has steered the company well, and there is little to indicate that this won't be yet another strong quarter for eBay.

On a day on which hundreds of worthy companies are set to reveal their results, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) still stands out. That's what bellwethers do. Standing tall as the world's largest software company when it's not trying to swat away antitrust litigation or screening Revenge of the Nerds for the kazillionth time, the company has been able to produce consistent high-margin results and find new ways to shoehorn its way into relevance thanks to its market-thumping position in operating system software.

However, the stock has been trading in a pretty narrow range over the past three years. You can't fault the company for trying. Mr. Softy closed out its fiscal year over the summer in grand fashion along with hiking its dividend and announcing a massive share buyback. Will the company kick off fiscal 2005 in even grander fashion? We will know when the company posts its fiscal first-quarter results on this day.

Ringing in with its caffeinated buzz, Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) will also be reporting its quarterly financials. However, the soda giant already warned that it would be producing watered-down results given its stagnant ways in terms of case volume. Remember when Coke wanted to teach the world to sing? In perfect harmony? Well, I've heard it croon lately. It's a little flat.

Earnings? Done. Nextel (NASDAQ:NXTL) is hoping that it simply won't be phoning it in when the cell phone specialist closes out the week with its third-quarter results. It's been pretty rough in the wireless industry as poor earnings, spotty service, and loyalty-axing portability have stung the key players. Thanks to its instantly gratifying walkie-talkie feature, Nextel has held up far better than its peers. Its shares have actually tripled over the past three years.

Will that kind of resiliency win it a recommendation in our new Rule Breakers newsletter? Probably not, but there's no harm in hitting the redial button every three months.

Until next week I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has never run into the 2002 version of himself though he would probably have a few stock tips to share if it ever did happen. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.