Earnings season is winding down, with most companies already having reported their quarterly results. But there are still some companies left to report, and Cintas (NASDAQ:CTAS) is about to release its quarterly earnings. 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 reaction to news that turns out to be exactly the wrong move.

Cintas has made a name for itself by providing uniforms for sale or for rent to hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world. But it also has diversified itself, offering document management and safety-related products as well. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Cintas over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report on Tuesday.

Stats on Cintas

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change From Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$1.06 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will Cintas dress up well this quarter?
Analysts have been mostly stable on their calls on earnings at Cintas, having cut their earnings-per-share estimates on the company by a single penny for the just-ended quarter and keeping their full-year fiscal 2013 consensus stable. The stock has done pretty well lately, though, rising 7.5% since mid-December.

Cintas has done a good job over the years in boosting its business steadily and treating its shareholders well. A three-decade streak of raising dividends every year demonstrates Cintas' strength in its core uniform-services business.

Even with the relatively slow recovery in employment since the financial crisis, Cintas managed to find solid growth. By expanding the number of routes it can serve, Cintas has put itself in position to serve new customers. Moreover, its move into the safety area, which includes first aid and fire protection services, has been a natural fit with its existing corporate customers, essentially allowing the company to cross-sell to current clients rather than having to do the legwork of finding new customers. The segment also gives the company a competitive advantage against smaller rival G&K Services (NASDAQ:GK) and its stronger focus on uniforms while helping Cintas stand up to Unifirst's (NYSE:UNF) similarly diversified uniform and safety business.

In its coming quarterly report, watch Cintas not just for details of its own business but for signs of strength in the employment sector generally. As a macroeconomic indicator, Cintas' business can show you whether more optimistic views of employment are taking root and could help guide investing decisions across your portfolio.

Click here to add Cintas to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.