Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect earnings date changes.

It's that time of the year again. Every Fool's favorite quarterly celebration -- earnings season -- has arrived. With that in mind, this series will give you a heads up on reporting dates, analyst expectations, and past earnings performance for a variety of Industrials stocks. First up is the auto industry.

Why is this important? Well, even though we don't believe that moving in and out of the market in the short term is the best strategy, we still like to arm ourselves with regular information. Each earnings report gives you the opportunity to learn much more about a company's recent performance. Whether you're checking in on a stock you already own or looking for the next company to add to your portfolio, we'll show you here what to expect during the course of earnings season.

Source: Standard & Poor's.

As far as industrials as a whole, there's some good news and some reason for pause. Let's go with the good news first. Year-over-year, earnings are expected to increase 10% compared to 2010's third quarter. However, the expected earnings trend for the industry this quarter is slightly worrisome. The 2011 second-quarter earnings rise is not expected to continue in the third quarter, as analysts believe overall earnings will decrease by 3.6%.

Part of this decrease could simply be seasonality. Since 2009, Industrials companies have tended to show decreases in earnings in Q1 and Q3, while they tend to grow their earnings in Q2 and Q4. This could help explain some of the drop that we're expected to see in the sector this quarter.

Now that you've got the big picture for Industrials, let's zero in on the auto industry and show you what to expect over the next few weeks.

Company Estimated Report Date Estimated Earnings Earnings Estimate 90 Days Ago Year Ago Earnings Earnings Reported Last Quarter
Ford (NYSE: F) Oct. 26 $.45 $.38 $.48 $.65
Honda (NYSE: HMC) Oct. 31 $.39 $.46 N/A $.22
Zipcar (Nasdaq: ZIP) Nov. 2 $-.01 $-.02 N/A $-.17
Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) Nov. 2 to Nov. 7 $-.59 $-.53 $-.37 $-.53
General Motors (NYSE: GM) Nov. 7 to Nov. 10 $.93 $.96 N/A $1.54
Toyota (NYSE: TM) Nov. 8 $.39 $.48 $1.32 $0.00

Sources: Yahoo! Finance and Earnings.com. Earnings report dates subject to change.

Honda and Toyota are both expected to see healthy earnings increases from the second quarter as the companies were finally able to ramp up production following the Japanese tsunami. The fourth quarter will be the big measuring stick for Toyota – the company expects to make up a considerable amount of the U.S. market share it lost by the end of the year.

Tesla and Zipcar continue their struggles to become profitable. Tesla is expected to lose more money this quarter than last as it ramps up production on the new Model S, expected in mid-2012. It will be interesting to see updates on the Model S, especially the latest reservation count for the new sedan. Zipcar appears to be on a faster track out of the red. The company has seen revenues rise every year since 2007. Analysts expect it to come very close to profitability this quarter, with anticipated earnings per share of -$0.01.

Ford and GM aren’t expected to post as strong earnings as they did in the second quarter, but third-quarter earnings are traditionally lower for the two big automakers. August and September sales were fairly strong, and it looks like both Ford and GM remain on the right track. Now that Ford has followed GM’s lead and come to an agreement with the UAW, both companies look to have positioned themselves well despite the uncertain future of the global economy.

GM CEO Dan Akerson said recently that he believes 2012 auto sales will be flat industrywide, but that GM will gain more market share and remain profitable due to its low breakeven point. In an industry as cyclical as the auto industry, many of the macro factors that heavily influence auto sales are out of the companies’ hands. As investors, all we ask is that they maximize shareholder value regardless of the economic environment. We’ll find out which companies did a better job of that in the third quarter very soon.  

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Fool contributor Brendan Byrnes owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford and Zipcar. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Zipcar, Ford, and General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.