T-minus ... oh, call it 20 hours, and counting ... until Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation GeoEye (NASDAQ:GEOY) reports its fourth-ever earnings report. Will the sun shine bright on tomorrow morning's news?

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Since last we checked in, Wall Street coverage of GeoEye has tripled to a total of three buy ratings.
  • Revenue. Said analysts predict that quarterly revenue will drop 27% to $35.1 million ...
  • Earnings. ... and predict per-share profits of $0.13.

What management says:

At this point, though, the numbers are basically background noise. The big news at GeoEye is the progress of its "Dash-1" satellite from testing by General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), to delivery to United Launch Alliance ("ULA" -- a joint venture between Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT)) for launch, to ... postponement of said launch. We learned this morning that the launch date has been pushed back from Aug. 22 to Sept. 4.

Oh, well. Better late than never. In any case, rival DigitalGlobe appears to be leading in non-defense clients by signing Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). A couple weeks' delay will probably not hurt GeoEye in its efforts to compete with DigitalGlobe in selling imagery and mapping services to non-governmental customers.

What management does:
Meanwhile, GeoEye's profit margins look as pretty as ever:

Margins

12/06

3/07

6/07

9/07

12/07

3/08

Gross

45.2%

48.3%

55.2%

57.4%

58.3%

57.4%

Operating

28.6%

32.1%

39.1%

40.9%

42.1%

39.7%

Net

15.5%

(4.7%)

5.7%

32.1%

23.1%

40.2%

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
Since bottoming out in the mid-$16 range early last month, GeoEye's stock has been on a tear lately -- up nearly 50% in a little over a month. So far, this morning's news doesn't seem to be affecting the stock price much.

But here's something that might. Remember how I said in May that the GeoEye-1 satellite had "completed final testing and is ready for launch into orbit"? Ah, but I didn't mention the re-testing of the launch vehicle. GeoEye tells us in its press release that the Delta IV rocket that will lift Dash-1 to the stars must undergo a "re-test of a Range Safety antenna on the booster ... scheduled for completion on August 16."

Hopefully, this is just a routine matter. But investors should be aware that there's one extra hurdle to clear before liftoff.

For more information, check out our last several articles on GeoEye:

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Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Boeing. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Microsoft is an Inside Value selection. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.