Someone remind me: What is it you're supposed to do in case of a crash landing? Duck and cover? Stop, drop, and roll? Whatever calisthenics you practice, I doubt they'll make Boeing's (NYSE:BA) Q3 earnings report (due out Wednesday) look any better. But at least you can be prepared.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Thirty-five analysts keep Boeing on their radar, but don't think that makes it a "popular" stock. Only six of 'em rate Boeing a buy, while 25 say it's just a hold, and four think it's time to sell.
  • Revenue. Yet the numbers aren't all bad. Analysts predict 12.4% sales growth to $17.2 billion.
  • Earnings. They predict a reversal of last year's profits, for a $2.12-per-share loss.

What management says:
Give Boeing this much -- its press department is no wallflower. Hardly a week goes by without Boeing making news in one way or another. In recent weeks, we've seen the restart of last year's KC-X contest between Boeing and Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), congressional wrangling over the C-17 transport, and a series of delivery delays in high-profile airliners like the 747-8 freighter and the 787 Dreamliner.

What management does:
Yet from a numerical perspective, we also saw Boeing begin a turnaround in the second quarter. Across the board, gross, operating, and net margins, all of which had seemingly been in freefall, ticked up in Q2:

Margins

March 2008

June 2008

September 2008

December 2008

March 2009

June 2009

Gross

19.8%

19.2%

18.7%

17.3%

16.2%

16.6%

Operating

9.1%

8.7%

8.2%

6.1%

4.8%

5.3%

Net

6.6%

6.3%

5.8%

4.4%

3.4%

3.6%

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:
Analysts' projected loss for Q3 should hit the eject button on that trend and halt Boeing stock's recent outperformance of even this hugely bullish market -- or will it?

After all, one side effect of Boeing's headline-making ways is that this company's woes are well-known. In contrast, if Boeing has any pleasant surprises in store for us Wednesday, those could easily move the stock. For example, management recently reaffirmed that it will put a 787 in the air by year-end.

If Boeing can stick to its schedule -- or even better, provide a more specific date for the 787 -- that would be brilliant news for customers like Delta (NYSE:DAL), Continental (NYSE:CAL), and AMR (NYSE:AMR). It would also reassure 787 suppliers like Honeywell (NYSE:HON) and United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) that orders are on the way.

And the loudest cheering of all? That would come from Boeing's long-suffering shareholders. So while it's a big "if" ... fingers crossed.

What do you think Boeing's headline announcement will be Wednesday? Will the company confirm a deadline for the 787 test flight? Reveal which 7-model it'll submit for the KC-X competition? Promise a (gasp!) profit in 2010? Scroll down and sound off.

Fool contributor Rich Smith is one of those long-suffering shareholders -- he owns shares of Boeing. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.