As first-quarter earnings kick into high gear, I can't help but point out that the majority of earnings reports we've covered over the past year have been better than expected. With so many companies reporting during the weeks that comprise earnings season, it's easy for some earnings reports to fall through the cracks.

Each week for the past year, I've taken a look at three companies that could be worth further research after either beating or missing their profit expectations. Today, we'll take a gander at three more companies that reported earnings last week. They may have slid under your radar, but they deserve a look.


Consensus EPS

Reported EPS






Harmonic (NASDAQ:HLIT)




Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS)




Source: Yahoo! Finance.

As you might expect, earnings results for coal producer CONSOL weren't pretty; but they also weren't nearly as bad anyone predicted, signaling that a rebound could be in the offing.

For the fourth quarter, CONSOL reported a 10% decline in year-over-year revenue to $1.39 billion as net income declined 23% to an adjusted $0.43. Still, these results crushed Wall Street's estimates as thermal coal prices, and demand, began to rebound. January brought the first true cold spell the Midwest and East Coast have seen in months, and could be the start of a normalization of the weather and a return to somewhat normal coal usage.

Coal remains an integral part of the U.S.' energy plans, accounting for 42% of all electrical generation in 2011. Although President Obama has made it clear that clean coal and other alternative energies will be crucial to securing America's energy independence, we're reasonably years away from seeing a major shift and/or drop in coal usage. What's more, coal companies will simply do what Arch Coal (OTC:ACIIQ) did and turn to overseas exports in order to keep demand up. Arch has set up multiple long-term export contracts in the Gulf of Mexico and out West in order to keep production levels constant. CONSOL similarly noted in its quarterly report that it's developed multiple overseas partners and made coal deliveries in China, India, and the Dominican Republic. As long as CONSOL continues to look overseas for production growth, it should rebound nicely.

Video infrastructure specialist Harmonic can't seem to catch a break. As my Foolish colleague Alex Planes pointed out via comments made by Jefferies analyst James Kisner, Harmonic has now guided toward five straight quarters of year-over-year sales declines. This may appear to be the completely wrong time to jump into a name like Harmonic, but it's actually caught my fancy following this report.

For the fourth quarter, Harmonic saw sales decline by 7% to $133.4 million as EPS actually rose slightly to $0.09 from $0.07 in the year-ago period. Harmonic noted the usual suspects, including a slowdown in cable spending in the U.S. and a tight spending market in Europe. However, buried in Harmonic's comments was a note that international revenue was at a record level. This tells me that Harmonic's products are likely translating well in emerging markets like Asia and Latin America where growth is likely to remain strong.

Also, it's worth noting that domestic spending from AT&T and Sprint Nextel is about to pick up, which could mean a boom is coming for video infrastructure as well. AT&T pledged $14 billion to upgrade its wireless and wireline infrastructure over the next three years, while Sprint Nextel will use its investment from SoftBank to build out its 4G LTE network. Don't call it a comeback just yet, but don't be surprised if Harmonic shocks Wall Street in the second half of 2013.

Las Vegas Sands
Casino and hotel operator Las Vegas Sands may have come up short of estimates based on Wall Street's figures, but the tables are quickly turning in China, where Las Vegas Sands has all the momentum and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) is suddenly on the defensive.

Macau growth was the name of the game in Las Vegas Sands' most recent quarter, with the company reporting a nearly 21% increase in net revenue thanks to huge gains in many of its Macau properties. Wynn Resorts, the casino and hotel operator that pioneered the move into Macau, saw revenue decline 3.2% during the same period. Wynn blamed the drop on a decline in its VIP segment, where table game turnover fell 6%.  

Las Vegas Sands, on the other hand, confirmed to investors that it has every intention of focusing its efforts on Macau in the interim and backed it up with a 40% boost of its recurring quarterly dividend to $0.35 from $0.25. With a more-tiered approach to its pricing and customer focus, Las Vegas Sands has been able to attract all types of customers in Macau, lending to its stellar results. In the past I've preferred Wynn Resorts, but, admittedly, am going to think twice after this report from both companies.

Foolish roundup
Sometimes an earnings beat or miss isn't as cut-and-dried as it appears. I've given my two cents on what's next for each of these companies -- now it's your turn to sound off. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider adding these stocks to your free and personalized Watchlist.