On Wednesday, Boeing (NYSE:BA) will release its latest quarterly results. The key to making smart investment decisions on stocks reporting earnings is to anticipate how they'll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever surprises inevitably arise. That way, you'll be less likely to have an uninformed, knee-jerk reaction that turns out to be exactly the wrong move.

Boeing has had a nightmarish quarter. But what's remarkable about the aerospace specialist of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is that it has managed to thrive despite its adversity. 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.

Stats on Boeing

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change From Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$18.84 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Can Boeing regain altitude with investors?
Surprisingly, analysts have raised their expectations for Boeing's in recent months. They've boosted their calls on the just-ended quarter by more than 20% and tacked on a whopping $1.22 per share to their full-year 2013 estimates. The stock has also advanced considerably, rising 18% since mid-January.

What makes all this surprising is that Boeing has suffered a huge reputational hit from the grounding of its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft. In the wake of multiple incidents involving problems with the aircraft's battery systems, the FAA joined Japanese regulators in requiring safety investigations before allowing the planes to fly again. In response, Boeing has successfully redesigned its battery, and late last week it got the FAA's approval for its certification plan. Yet the aircraft will still have to be tested before the FAA clears it to fly.

Yet behind the 787 debacle, the key to Boeing's success has been that its order backlog continues to rise. With the vast majority of these orders coming for its more fuel-efficient 737 MAX, the 787's woes don't have as big an impact on Boeing as many would believe. It's also ramping up production of both its 737 and 777 models to meet increased demand.

The other thing many people forget about Boeing is that it's an essential player in the defense industry. Rival Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) has faced criticism of its F-35 fighter jet, with some calling for a gradual phase-out of the program. The Pentagon has even opened the door to potentially replacing the F-35 with Boeing fighters. Moreover, with Boeing attack helicopters heading to South Korea to help defend against the North Korean threat, defense could once again become a growth industry.

In Boeing's quarterly report, look beyond the 787 headlines to see how its other core aircraft lines are performing. If the company can deliver on its promised earnings growth, then the 787's woes will likely be forgotten in the months and years to come.

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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 Lockheed Martin. 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.