It's that time again, investor dudes. Extreme apparelier Quiksilver (NYSE:ZQK) releases its fiscal-fourth-quarter and full-year 2005 earnings numbers Friday morning.

As of this writing, there is little disagreement between analysts and company management on what the quarter's numbers will be. Analysts expect to see the company report $0.27 per share in profit on $590 million in revenues. That lies within, if toward the upper end of, the numbers that Quiksilver itself posited three months ago: $0.26 to $0.27 in profits and $582 million to $592 million in revenue. Assuming Quiksilver "hits" those numbers, then in combination with the $0.59 per share that it has earned year to date, the company should be able to likewise hit the $0.86-per-share target that analysts have set it for the year.

So it's good news all around, right?

Not necessarily. Sure, it's great that, in combination with its recent acquisition of Rossignol, Quiksilver will achieve 26% growth over its earnings of yesteryear. However, analyst predictions for next year foretell a profits shortfall. They see growth stagnating and Quiksilver posting just $0.87 next year -- a 1.1% improvement, or less than the rate of inflation.

The reason? I can't speak for the analysts, but from this Fool's point of view, one reason Rossignol might see its profitability flatline next year lies buried beneath the pile of inventory that the company inherited from its Rossignol purchase. As described back in September in "Quiksilver Skips a Beat," Rossignol brought with it enough unsold merchandise to grow Quiksilver's inventories by 144% last quarter. With Quiksilver's inventory growing at half again the rate of sales (19% versus 11%) even without the Rossignol batch of unsold goods, it seems to this Fool there's more than a chance that the combined company will need to do some heavy-duty discounting in the coming months if it's to move all this merchandise out of its warehouses, convert it to cash, and put it in the corporate till.

That, my friends, will eat into profits. So when reviewing tomorrow's earnings report, let's focus less on whether this company makes its analysts happy by confirming their estimates, and more on watching the inventory situation. The faster the company moves those goods at decent prices, the less we need to fear that future profits will suffer.

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Fool contributor Rich Smithhas no financial interest, short or long, in Quiksilver.