With hundreds of companies having reported quarterly results, we're now in the heart of earnings season. The key to making smart investment decisions with stocks releasing their quarterly reports is to anticipate how they'll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever inevitable surprises arise. That way, you'll be less likely to make an uninformed, knee-jerk decision.

Let's turn to Boeing (NYSE:BA). The aircraft maker saw its shares rise just 5% in 2012, underperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) even as it brought in huge numbers of new orders. Now, Boeing faces a huge new challenge as its newest aircraft is under threat. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Boeing over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report on Wednesday.

Stats on Boeing

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change From Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$22.36 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo Finance.

Will Boeing fly higher?
Even with its recent troubles, Boeing has inspired analysts to maintain and even slightly increase their estimates on the company. With earnings-per-share guesses having risen by $0.03 in the past three months, Boeing has enjoyed considerable confidence on Wall Street. The stock backs up that assessment, having risen 5% since late October despite a recent pullback.

Boeing's biggest issue right now is the ongoing controversy involving its 787 Dreamliner, which has been grounded by the FAA and regulators abroad pending investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board into fires caused by lithium-ion batteries onboard the aircraft. United Continental is the only U.S. airline affected by the order, but with Delta Air Lines also having made orders and American potentially following suit after it emerges from bankruptcy, Boeing can't afford to make mistakes with this long-awaited aircraft.

Boeing has other concerns, though. It still hasn't gotten closer to a new contract with its engineers' union, and the company's counteroffer to engineers a week and a half ago was not well-received by workers. Obviously, the last thing Boeing needs right now is a strike among the very employees that are best able to fix any problems with the Dreamliner.

Yet Boeing hasn't lost confidence. It's restarting a share buyback, trying to take advantage of the drop in its share price following the Dreamliner news. Moreover, in the long run, its mix of commercial and military aircraft production should give it strong diversification, with the company and partner Textron (NYSE:TXT) winning a contract to supply V-22 Osprey aircraft with both vertical takeoff and high-speed cruising capability.

In Boeing's earnings report, all eyes will be on the Dreamliner saga. But look for more information on the company's other lines of aircraft in order to get the complete picture of how the company will fare in the future.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Textron. 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.