Just as firing a gun signals the start of a marathon, so did Alcoa signal the official kickoff to earnings season with the reporting of its quarterly results earlier this week. The next few weeks will be nothing short of eventful. Staying on top of earnings results could mean the difference between a successful quarter or wanting to hide under the covers.

Rather than looking back at the results that were, I'd like to look forward at the results to come by focusing on one company set to report its quarterly results after the bell next Wednesday. It's an e-commerce giant and it could be primed to blow current profit projections out of the water – enter eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) stage left.

'Tis the season
eBay is no stranger to analyst coverage; 28 analysts are estimating earnings per share (EPS) of between $0.45 and $0.49 in the current quarter -- and apparently all but one are living under a rock. Only one analyst has been brave enough to raise the EPS estimate in light of holiday online sales figures, which showed a 13% improvement over 2009. I haven't seen any concrete figures from eBay regarding the strength of this recent holiday season, but this can't be anything but bullish news for the e-commerce behemoth.

Same-store maelstrom
If December retail same-store sales figures were any indication of what's to come, it should be that eBay and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) picked up where bricks-and-mortar retailers left off. B&M retailers American Eagle (NYSE: AEO) and Hot Topic (Nasdaq: HOTT) both reported same-store sale declines while Gap (NYSE: GPS) missed expectations by reporting no growth at all. You might think this is an isolated event, but 18 of 28 retailers missed same-store sales expectations last week. That's not a coincidence; that's a trend.

Mobile consumers
eBay worked feverishly to update its webpage in 2010 to make it more user-friendly, and it appears to have paid off. More holiday shoppers than ever purchased online, with figures from eBay indicating that its overall transaction dollar amount generated from mobile devices jumped more than 200%. Since eBay's iPhone app was introduced, 15 million people have downloaded it, and this can only be seen as a positive.

Click "buy me now"?
With consumers being more cost-conscious, I wouldn't be surprised to see eBay report stellar figures because of its PayPal side-project "Bill Me Later." Users can choose to defer payments to a later date in exchange for paying interest on those payments. Users aren't typically using eBay for large purchases, so I'd suspect the default risk on these loans to be relatively low, which should lead to healthy margins.

Only time will tell if eBay can trump estimates, but the surrounding facts signal that an earnings beat may be in the cards.

Would you click "buy it now" or would you pass on eBay? Let's hear about it in the comment section below!

Fool contributor Sean Williams does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this article. He really dislikes paying shipping costs on eBay. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong. eBay and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on eBay. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.