The American Express (NYSE:AXP) earnings report? Don't leave home without it. The financial services giant will kick off the new trading week with its fourth-quarter report. Analysts expect earnings to climb to $0.76 a share for the period. That is a healthy advance over the $0.60 per share that it had produced a year earlier.

It may be even better than that. American Express has beaten Wall Street's projections for five consecutive quarters. The climate remains favorable, so let's see if the company can charge ahead one more time.

If it's Tuesday, it might be a double doozy from the housing sector. Real estate developers have had it rough lately, and now we have leading homebuilders Centex (NYSE:CTX) and D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) reporting on the same day. Investors aren't exactly hopeful here. Earnings are expected to fall by 68% and 65%, respectively, for the developers.

Do check for any upbeat hints at a turnaround. Absent that, make sure that the new home orders aren't falling too much further than the actual number of homes delivered for the period. Weakness there may push a recovery to 2008 at the earliest.

Bidding for your mid-week attention, eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) reports on Wednesday. Yes, the Stock Advisor recommendation is still growing. It's just coming along at a slower pace than in its early years. The market is looking for eBay's December quarter to clock in with net income of $0.28 a share. It earned $0.24 per share a year ago.

Things are going well for Inside Value pick Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The world's largest software company is rolling out its new Vista operating system, and its Xbox 360 outsold the other next-generation video game consoles over the holidays. The stock is even tickling highs it hasn't seen in years. So why are earnings expected to dip to $0.23 a share, after a $0.33 per share showing a year earlier? Well, the share gains are discounting the expected improvement that analysts see in the second half of fiscal 2007.

Showing that you can make whiskey and golf balls at the same time, Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO) wraps up the week with its report. Yes, Fortune Brands watches over Jim Beam whiskey and Titleist golfing essentials. That is just part of the diversified empire that the company has pieced together over the years.

May good Fortune follow you into the weekend. Just don't try to mix things up by hitting whiskey and drinking down golf balls.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look forward. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.