With more than 500 companies looking to post their quarterly results next week, good luck trying to keep up with Wall Street. We'll help as much as we can. Let's take a closer look.

The fourth-quarter report for American Express (NYSE:AXP)? Don't leave home without it. The financial-services giant already had a good September quarter, when it saw profits climb by 14% with the help of strong travel sales and an uptick in consumers choosing plastic over paper. Naturally, the December quarter should follow the trend, what with folks running up gift-giving tabs and heading home for the holidays. Curious to see whether it all panned out? AmEx won't make you wait too much longer; it will be one of the first companies to announce results in the new trading week.

The country's leading video-game maker will hit the pause button on its controller just long enough to reveal how it held up over the Christmas season. Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) -- a popular Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection -- should shine when it steps up to be counted. The software juggernaut has been in the news lately, beefing up its already powerful EA Sports lineup by signing deals with both ESPN and the NFL. The company also had strong seasonal sellers with the latest installments in its Sims and Need for Speed gaming lines. Can you get a Sims character to actually buy stock in EA? Real-life investors could certainly do far worse, as the shares have more than doubled over the past three years.

Comedian Lewis Black has a funny bit about finding the end of the universe -- in Houston -- where he saw one Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) right across the street from another Starbucks. The chain's widespread expansion has often been lampooned -- from The Simpsons to Austin Powers -- but the chain seems to be pretty good about not only finding new places to tack on more locations, but also, thanks to healthy comps, making sure they don't cannibalize existing stores.

Yet that doesn't stop some people from worrying about that inevitable quarter when the company steps up to the podium, sighs, and says it has nowhere else to go unless we're ready to colonize the moon. Back in November, the company put up great fourth-quarter results and initiated guidance for fiscal 2005. It's looking to grow sales by roughly 20%, with earnings climbing at least 22% higher. Keep that in mind when the company does its barista dance come Wednesday. If it inches those targets higher or lower, the stock is likely to follow suit. Just don't hold your breath for a moving-to-the-moon announcement.

Remember when investing in Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was cool? The world's largest software company was booming, new revenue streams were opening up, and the country's largest company by market cap became the benchmark for finding that next great growth stock. Well, a lot of that luster wears away when you watch your share price get cut in half over the past five years, the way Microsoft's stock has. Yet every time Mr. Softy speaks, people still listen. That's because the company is still a technology bellwether, shedding light on the sector as a whole. So listen up, because Microsoft is clearing its throat again.

Another Thursday earnings report will come from Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK). The company's had a good run lately, appreciating by 34% since being singled out in the Rule Breakers newsletter service three months ago. Overstock has grown from simply offering closeouts and clearance-bin wares to providing everything from bargain travel to auctions -- yes, auctions. In fact, it said that its auction listings were up by 50% since eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) announced its latest price hikes earlier this month. What will the company do next? Maybe the more appropriate question is to ask what it won't do next.

Care to fill 'er up for the weekend? ChevronTexaco (NYSE:CVX) will be giving us a peek under the hood when the country's second-largest gas station attendant closes out the week with its financials. Am I the only one who thinks that analysts following the integrated-oil sector should grade the industry's players as either "premium," "plus," or "regular unleaded"? Going by the debt-laden balance sheets of ChevronTexaco and its peers, should we tack on "leaded" as a grade choice? A year ago, we all knew that the gasoline companies were going to be rolling along nicely because of the higher prices at the pump. Prices have stabilized lately, so it will be interesting to see what ChevronTexaco's near-term outlook is for itself -- and for its fuel-powered rivals across the street.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is thinking of opening a Starbucks in his den. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.