The final quarterly earnings season of 2008 is starting to wind down. This week, there was an earnings release from only one Dow Jones Industrial Average component company:

Thursday, Nov. 13:

Wal-Mart

The following are key insights and advice from

TheStreet.com

to help you decipher the recent deluge of data.

From

Dividend.com: Wal-Mart Wary of Economy

:

Wal-Mart just reported a 10% increase in third-quarter profit to $3.14 billion, or 80 cents per share, in the quarter ended Oct. 31, up from $2.86 billion, or 70 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company is recognizing the economic difficulties around the world, and plans to push its position as the lowest-cost retailer with its latest marketing "save money, live better" campaign. The company is also scaling back its store growth and capital expenditures while focusing on remodeling existing locations.

As for the next quarter, management is lowering expectations for EPS to a new range of $1.03 to $1.07, below the consensus of $1.11.

We had removed shares of Wal-Mart from our "Recommended" list back on Oct. 7, when the shares were trading at $57.90...

Read the full version of

Dividend.com: Wal-Mart Wary of Economy

.

To listen to Wal-Mart's pre-recorded earnings call,

click here

.

Earnings Season, Week Five: Disney

From

DIS Preview: Great Export Story Coming to an End?

...investors are turning their attention to 2009 and the question of how well Disney will weather the recession. The business is far more stable than in the past. With half of cash flow coming from subscription-driven cable networks, for instance, there is cushion to offset the natural operating leverage in theme parks and films. If attendance declines 10% at the parks, operating profit could be down 20%; broadcasting revenue down 10% will result in profits down 30%. Studio entertainment faces tough comps, too...

Read the full version of

DIS Preview: Great Export Story Coming to an End?

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access required).

From

DIS Summary: Feeling the Pinch

:

Management led off by outlining the impact of the economy on Disney's business. The total destruction of the auto industry is starting to flow through the media results, since automakers are (were?) big advertisers, while the amusement parks held up until quarter end (but not much after that). Retail "could" be affected during the holidays, but "certainly" will be in 2009. Disney is not immune from economic impact, but as franchises go, its one of the better ones in which to take shelter during the storm.

By segment:

Media networks sales were up 4% to $4.2 billion with income flat at $1.1 billion.

Parks and resorts grew revenue 7% to $3.0 billion, while shrinking income 4% to $412 million.

Studio entertainment revenue decreased 5% to $1.5 billion, with income cut nearly in half to $98 million.

Consumer products sales grew 41% to $812 million; income was also up 14% to $176 million.

Read the full version of

DIS Summary: Feeling the Pinch

(

RealMoney

access required).

TheStreet.com TV Rewind: Cramer on Disney.

To help you make sense of Disney's latest earnings, get some context with Jim Cramer's analysis of the company's earnings report from the previous quarter.

From

Cramer: How Disney's Kingdom Grows

(Video, July 31):

Cramer: "I'm from the

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

school -- one of my favorite companies... Procter & Gamble has an annual report that I regard as being the most thoughtful annual report in America... And one of the things they emphasize is how hard it is to have a billion-dollar brand... Disney has

Pirates of the Caribbean

, which is a billion-dollar brand and at a fraction of the cost of what it takes Procter to develop and support a billion-dollar brand... The relevant metric that Disney should compare itself too are other companies that build brands... and how little it costs for them

Disney to develop franchises and how they're able to blow out the franchises over many different venues, because that shows you the long term strength of the company."

To watch the video, click the player below:

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From

Cramer: Disney's Charmed

(Video, July 28):

Cramer: "The actual franchise value of

High School Musical

is really beginning to accelerate... ESPN is very strong... Neither

Viacom

(VIA) - Get Report

, nor

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

has a portfolio of properties that continue to generate a lot of cash. It's kind of like

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

does off the Jordans... I think people should be looking at Disney as a creator of franchises. I am using the analogy of how hard it is for Procter & Gamble to create a new shampoo... Disney needs to be looked at as a company that can launch franchises. I'm trying to create a 'new world metric' here for Disney, which is that how much does it cost to launch a product that has... a continual stream of revenue. And Disney is the lowest cost producer of franchises."

Watch the video on TheStreet.com TV

.

Plus, don't miss

Cramer's 'Stop Trading!': Don't Desert Disney

(Nov. 3).

Continue to sharpen your earnings season skills. Next up:

Pages 2 and 3: TheStreet.com Reload: The Last Four Weeks of Dow Earnings

Page 4:

The Finance Professor: Beginner's Guide to Earnings Calls

Five Missteps to Avoid in Earnings Season

Conference Calls: The Good, the Bad, the Misunderstood

To Guide or Not to Guide: A Look at Earnings Guidance

TheStreet.com Reload: The Last Four Weeks of Dow Earnings

Verizon

From

VZ Preview: Alltel Deal Could Get Pricier

:

On the

Verizon earnings conference call, we'll be listening to determine how the company is navigating this weak macro picture. Usually, you see some traditional line loss offset by wireless and broadband. We'll see how those FIOS subs hold up, however, when they are losing their jobs. I

Ben Thomas would say the over/under for new FIOS subs

subscriptions is probably around 225,000. Look for landline losses of around 650,000.

Also, listen for comments on the

Alltel

deal. Given the credit freeze, there may be a few hiccups closing this. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but it might wind up costing more.

Read the full version of

VZ Preview: Alltel Deal Could Get Pricier

(

RealMoney

access required).

From

VZ Controlling Costs Very Well

:

Verizon reported a decent quarter given the macro backdrop, with wireless doing a little better than expected offset by a faster drop-off in wireline.

The company added 2.1 million wireless subs, 225,000 FIOS subs and lost 571,000 wireline subs. The FIOS subs were right in line with my preview, but the wireline losses were not as bad as expected.

Read the full version of

VZ Controlling Costs Very Well

(

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From

Verizon Meets Estimates; Shares Rise

:

The New York phone giant recorded net income of $1.67 billion, or 59 cents a share, compared with net income of $1.27 billion, or 44 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted for one-time items, Verizon said it had a profit of 66 cents a share, which matches the average estimate of analysts polled by

Thomson Reuters

.

Following rival

AT&T's

(T) - Get Report

own earnings report Wednesday

Oct. 22, which showed greater-than-expected growth in its wireless division thanks to

Apple's

(AAPL) - Get Report

iPhone 3G, there was concern Verizon Wireless would see slower growth.

"We did see some churn to the iPhone during the quarter," said COO Denny Strigl on the Verizon's conference call, before adding that the wireless division still outperformed expectations. "Our plan is to certainly grow at the kinds of numbers you have seen in this quarter. We'll meet the competition head on."

On the wireline side, Verizon's core business continued to erode, just as AT&T had reported last week. Wireline revenue fell 1.7% from a year ago to $12.2 billion as customers disconnect second lines or shift to competing services.

Read the full version of

Verizon Meets Estimates; Shares Rise

. (Related:

What AT&T's Earnings Say About Verizon

)

Updates:

Cramer's 'Stop Trading!': Viva Verizon

and

They Just Don't Get Verizon!

(on

TheStreet.com TV

).

Plus, to listen to

Verizon's conference call

,

click here

.

Kraft Foods and Procter & Gamble

From

KFT Preview: Handling the Private-Label Challenge

:

It is indicative of this bear market that even Kraft, a consumer staples stock with big problems, is beginning to look cheap now at $27.

Much like loan losses on mortgages, I believe that nobody really knows how high private-label penetrations and their attendant negative margin pressure can go in this recession, especially for poorly positioned food companies. There are lots of other better positioned consumer packaged goods stocks that are also very cheap at this juncture.

So, the focus for the call should be on reading the tea leaves for future price increases, volume gains and percentage price differentials between private-label and Kraft offerings.

Read the full version of

KFT Preview: Handling the Private-Label Challenge

(

RealMoney

access required).

TheStreet.com TV Rewind: Rising Food Costs, Fat Returns (Video, July 28)

To help you make sense of Kraft's latest earnings, get some context with David Peltier who dissects Kraft's strong earnings report from the previous quarter.

To watch the video, click the player below:

var config = new Array(); config<BRACKET>"videoId"</BRACKET> = 1695582016; config<BRACKET>"playerTag"</BRACKET> = "TSCM Embedded Video Player"; config<BRACKET>"autoStart"</BRACKET> = false; config<BRACKET>"preloadBackColor"</BRACKET> = "#FFFFFF"; config<BRACKET>"useOverlayMenu"</BRACKET> = "false"; config<BRACKET>"width"</BRACKET> = 265; config<BRACKET>"height"</BRACKET> = 255; config<BRACKET>"playerId"</BRACKET> = 1243645856; createExperience(config, 8);

Updates:

Kraft's Adjusted Earnings Flat

and

KFT Slices at Margins

(

RealMoney

access required).

Plus, to listen to

Kraft's conference call

,

click here

.

From

PG Preview: Currency, Commodities and the Consumer

:

The company is really a mid-single-digit "organic grower" (ex-currency) with a stable and consistent earnings stream. Procter & Gamble is also a prodigious cash flow and free cash generator, generating almost $5 a share in cash flow and about half that in free cash flow over the trailing four quarters.

It will be interesting to hear management's comments and guidance about the three C's: currency, commodities and, ultimately, the consumer (excluding the U.S.). While a stronger dollar and a penny-pinching consumer are potential negatives, sharply lower commodity costs and higher margins are one big positive.

Read the full version of

PG Preview: Currency, Commodities and the Consumer

(

RealMoney

access required).

Plus, don't miss this recent Procter & Gamble-focused video on

TheStreet.com TV

:

Best Brands, Super Stocks

(Sept. 17: Robert Millen, co-manager of the Jensen Portfolio, says the best stock ideas for a downturn can be found on supermarket shelves.)

Updates:

Procter & Gamble Profit Rises 9%

and

Consumer Remains the Wild Card for PG

(

RealMoney

access required).

Plus, to listen to

Procter & Gamble's conference call

,

click here

.

Exxon Mobil

From

XOM Preview: Perched Upon a Pile of Cash

:

I

Scott Rothbort constantly ponder what management is going to do with the company's

Exxon Mobil huge cash war chest of nearly $40 billion. I would not rule out additional stock buybacks at these depressed levels nor would I rule out a strategic acquisition.

Read the full version of

XOM Preview: Perched Upon a Pile of Cash

(

RealMoney

access required).

Updates:

Exxon Mobil Has New Record Profit

and

Investors Jittery About XOM's Outlook

(

RealMoney

access required).

Plus, to listen to

Exxon Mobil's conference call

,

click here

.

Chevron

From

CVX Preview: Weather's a Wildcard

:

CVX

Chevron is expected to earn $3.25 on revenue of $86.79 billion... As with its peers, I expect CVX to better estimates on strong upstream results.

Read the full version of

CVX Preview: Weather's a Wildcard

(

RealMoney

access required).

Update:

A Few Words on CVX Earnings

(

RealMoney

access required).

Plus, to listen to

Chevron's conference call

,

click here

.

American Express

From

AXP Preview: Be Braced for the Worst

:

American Express is clearly hurting from the current economic slowdown. Business travel is being severely curtailed with the loss of financial services corporate travel quite apparent. High energy costs during the summer and recessionary forces also put a dent in consumer-based travel. Both transaction volumes and dollar volumes will decline for card usage. On top of all this is a deteriorating credit environment, which should lead to further loss reserves and writedowns at the card unit.

Read the full version of

AXP Preview: Be Braced for the Worst

(

RealMoney

access required).

Updates:

Worries Underlie American Express Beat

They Just Don't Get AMEX!

(on

TheStreet.com TV

) and

AXP Takes the Good With the Bad

(on

RealMoney

).

Plus, to listen to

American Express's conference call

,

click here

.

Caterpillar, DuPont, Pfizer and 3M

From

CAT Preview: Hanging in There?

:

Despite Caterpillar's reputation for cyclicality, the stock has held up better than most in the recent market retreat. That's probably because there are fewer clouds over this company than most.

The company is expected to earn about $1.52 a share on $12 billion of sales for the quarter just ended.

Like many other U.S. companies, Caterpillar has suffered from the weakness of the U.S. housing market.

Unlike some U.S. companies, Caterpillar has an ace in the hole in terms of foreign sales, which represent just half of the total. Key customers here are in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Because its agricultural equipment represents a major part of the solution, Caterpillar's stock price (and earnings) have benefited recently from the rapidly growing demand for food in these countries, which has also lifted the prices of food and fertilizer shares. Other potential areas for rising profit are infrastructure and oilfield services.

On the conference call, I would be listening for the mix of U.S. vs. foreign sales, as well as for the internal mix of stateside sales.

Read the full version of

CAT Preview: Hanging in There?

(

RealMoney

access required).

Updates:

Caterpillar Net Falls on Higher Materials Costs

and

Street Skins the CAT on Uncertain Outlook

(on

RealMoney

).

Plus, to listen to

Caterpillar's conference call

,

click here

.

From

DuPont Earnings Fall on Charges

:

Sales in the quarter rose 9% to $7.3 billion. Continuing growth in emerging markets, where sales increased 25%, contributed to 16% sales growth outside the U.S., the company said in a press release Tuesday.

DuPont said higher selling prices more than offset a 16% increase in raw material, energy and freight costs.

Read the full version of

DuPont Earnings Fall on Charges

.

Plus, to listen to

DuPont's conference call

,

click here

.

From

PFE Preview: Deep Value Dose

:

Pfizer is a mature drug company, and its heyday of 12% to 15% earnings growth based on one or two key drugs such as Viagra is probably over. Similar to peers... it is basically a manager of a large portfolio of medications of varying sizes and profitability. The sum total is quite impressive: Consensus earnings estimates are for 55 cents a share on $12 billion of sales in the third quarter and $2.15 a share on $48 billion of sales for all of 2008.

Individual drugs (as opposed to drug companies as a whole) are subject to "royalty trust" pressures, declining sales and profit bases. Key concerns for Pfizer in this regard are Lipitor, a cardiovascular drug, and Zoloft, an antidepressant.

Read the full version of

PFE Preview: Deep Value Dose

(

RealMoney

access required).

Updates:

Pfizer Narrows Full-Year Forecast

,

Top Dividend Stock to Buy Now

and

PFE Sees Strength in Overseas Markets

(on

RealMoney

).

Plus, to listen to

Pfizer's conference call

,

click here

.

From

3M's Profit Tops Expectations

:

Net income for the quarter was $991 million, or $1.41 a share, up from $960 million and $1.32 a share in the same period last year.

During the latest quarter, sales rose 10% in the industrial and transportation segment to $2 billion. In the health-care division, sales were up 10.7% to $1.1 billion, and safety, security and protection services had a 27.1% revenue increase to $974 million.

Read the full verison of

3M's Profit Tops Expectations

.

Plus, to listen to

3M's conference call

,

click here

.

AT&T, Boeing, McDonald's and Merck

From

T Preview: Earnings Likely to Get Flattened

:

Guidance will play a big role in how the stock reacts immediately after the report and whether my

Steve Birenberg thesis that the shares should finally show defensive characteristics has merit.

Enterprise spending, access line losses, wireless subscribers, voice average revenue per user (ARPU), data ARPU and growth, DSL additions, and U-Verse broadband and TV subscriber growth will be the key measures on which to focus.

Specific to AT&T, the iPhone numbers will be important.

Read the full version of

T Preview: Earnings Likely to Get Flattened

(

RealMoney

access required).

Plus, don't miss

AT&T, Verizon Cope With Wireless World

.

Update:

AT&T's Net Falls Short

.

Plus, to listen to

AT&T's conference call

,

click here

.

BA Preview: Few Positives to Look Forward to

Unfortunately, the only events occurring for BA

Boeing have been to the company's detriment. BA's struggles to deliver the 787 Dreamliner have been further exacerbated by a prolonged strike. To add insult to injury, there is a high likelihood that an Obama presidency could cut defense spending, thus impacting future guidance.

Read the full version of

BA Preview: Few Positives to Look Forward to

(

RealMoney

access required).

Plus, don't miss

AMR Bets Big With Boeing Order

.

Update:

Boeing Earnings Slide Amid Strike

.

Plus, to listen to

Boeing's conference call

,

click here

.

MCD Preview: Comps Could Be Key

While the comps are likely to be about 7% for the quarter (5% for the U.S., 8% for Europe and 6% for the rest of world), which overcomes cost pressures, investors are looking down the road to an economic slowdown in the U.S., Europe and possibly in the developing world as well.

Margins are lower for McDonald's in developing countries, and earnings are heavily weighted to the U.S. and Europe, but growth in revenue and earnings would slow enough to make me wary on the valuation for now.

So I

Ron Thomas will be looking for evidence that September comps are slowing much from the quarterly trend and anything else that management can tell us about the likely future outlook.

Read the full version of

MCD Preview: Comps Could Be Key

(

RealMoney

access required).

Updates:

McDonald's Profit Sizzles

and

Tim Brown: Chew on McDonald's

.

Plus, to listen to

McDonald's conference call

,

click here

.

MRK Preview: Solid Cash Flow

Revenue growth is flat for the foreseeable future (the next three to five years), as the company

Merck struggles with patent expirations, a dearth of pipeline drugs and challenges with Vytorin, Zetia and Gardasil.

The cash flow is rock solid. With a $65 billion market cap, one analyst model expects Merck to generate $9 billion to $10 billion in cash from operations for the next several years, leaving the stock trading at 6 times to 7 times cash flow.

Read the full version of

MRK Preview: Solid Cash Flow

(

RealMoney

Access required).

Update:

Merck Hits Targets, Plans Job Cuts

.

Plus, to listen to Merck's

conference call

,

click here

.

Microsoft

From

MSFT Preview: Expect Another Solid Quarter

:

In the prior quarter, Microsoft reported revenue of $14.457 billion (flat year over year and down 12% quarter over quarter)... Excluding a one-time revenue deferral in the prior year's quarter, revenue growth would have been 14%.

The balance sheet remains among the strongest of any company. Cash from operations was $7.1 billion, which was comparable to last year's $7.30 billion. The cash account increased more than $4.0 billion, to $25.3 billion.

I've

Bob Faulkner noted in the past that the bulk of Microsoft's revenue comes from corporate customers and much of that is on a subscription basis. Consequently, it comes directly off the balance sheet each quarter from the deferred revenue account. That creates a certain degree of predictability from one quarter to the next.

The real wild cards each quarter come from consumer PC demand, the online business and the entertainment operations.

Read the full version of

MSFT Preview: Expect Another Solid Quarter

(

RealMoney

access required).

Plus, don't miss

Ballmer Needs to Live Up to the Hype

and

Microsoft Tests Its Mettle

.

Update:

Microsoft Tops Profit Estimates

.

Bank of America

From

BofA Selling Stock, Cutting Dividend

:

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

said Monday

Oct. 6 it's cutting its quarterly dividend in half and aiming to raise $10 billion in order to shore up its capital base.

The announcement came as the company revealed its quarterly earnings roughly two weeks before it was scheduled to do so. Charlotte-based Bank of America said it earned $1.18 billion, or 15 cents a share, in the third quarter, down from $3.70 billion and 82 cents a share in the same period a year earlier.

"These are the most difficult times for financial institutions that I have experienced in my 39 years in banking," said Kenneth Lewis, chairman and chief executive of Bank of America, in a press release. "We believe it is prudent to raise capital to very substantial levels in this uncertain environment."

Retail deposits grew by $56 billion to $586 billion from June 30 to Sept. 30, including the addition of $35 billion from Countrywide.

Read the full version

BofA Selling Stock, Cutting Dividend

.

From

Bank Investors, This Is Going to Hurt

:

Bank of America's sour third-quarter earnings results announced on Monday

Oct. 6 confirm what may already be obvious for many: Things are getting worse, not better, for banks as the credit crunch passes its one-year anniversary.

The collapse of several large banks exemplifies just how dire the situation has become for the sector, amid an increasingly dour economic environment. Analysts at Fox-Pitt Kelton Cochran Caronia Waller estimate that overall earnings for the bank sector will fall 28% compared to a year earlier.

"While the fundamental outlook for most banks remains negative due to falling real estate prices, limited balance sheet growth and funding pressures, the stocks are likely to trade more on technical factors, including the perceived benefit of

the federal bailout legislation and the removal of the short-sale ban," the analysts wrote in an industry note Tuesday

Oct. 7.

Read the full version of

Bank Investors, This Is Going to Hurt

.

Plus, to listen

Bank of America's conference call

,

click here

.

Alcoa and General Electric

From

AA Can't Shoot Straight

:

Alcoa's

(AA) - Get Report

earnings really smelt (pun intended). Yesterday's

Tuesday, Oct. 7 earnings release and conference call are prima facie evidence of why I placed Alcoa into my inaugural list of the worst-run companies in the U.S.

Alcoa has managed to bear the brunt of slowing demand, rising commodity costs and increased levels of inventory -- lose, lose, lose. Looking ahead, with the closing of a smelter, the company will not be able to fully benefit from the decline in energy and commodity costs.

Read the full version of

AA Can't Shoot Straight

(

RealMoney

access required).

Plus, to listen to

Alcoa's conference call

,

click here

.

From

GE Meets Revised Third-Quarter Estimates

:

Third-quarter earnings from

General Electric's

(GE) - Get Report

continuing operations of $4.5 billion fell 12% from $5.1 billion a year earlier. Net earnings in the quarter were $4.3 billion, or 43 cents a share, compared with $5.6 billion, or 54 cents a share, in the same period in 2007.

Read the full version of

GE Meets Revised Third-Quarter Estimates

. (Related:

Energy Business Boosts GE; Solar Stocks Battered

)

Plus, to listen to

GE's conference call

,

click here

.

Intel and Johnson & Johnson

From

JNJ Preview: Looking Down the Pipeline

:

Under most circumstances, investors could feel confident that the report is going to be good, but in this environment, who knows? Analysts are looking for $1.11 of EPS on $15.7 billion of sales. Analysts never had doubts -- the estimates have been rising steadily all autumn.

On the call, investors are going to focus on the earnings impact from generic competition in the near term, but the progress on the pipeline, which promises resurgent earnings a couple years out, will be scrutinized for longer-term trends.

Read the full version of

JNJ Preview: Looking Down the Pipeline

(

RealMoney

access required).

From

Dividend.com: J&J a Good Play

:

The world's largest health care company,

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

, just reported that revenue rose 6.4% over the past 12 months to $15.9 billion.

The company's consumer products division consumer products rose 13.1% to $4.1 billion. Some of that division's brands include Aveeno, Band-Aid, Carefree, Motrin IB, Neutrogena, Pepcid Ac, Rembrandt, Splenda, Tylenol, Listerine, Nicorette, and Sudafed.

Management raised its 2008 earnings forecast to $4.50 to $4.53 per share from its earlier outlook of $4.45 to $4.50 per share.

We reinitiated our "Recommendation" for the stock yesterday, as its dividend yield rose back to the 3% level. We felt that was a good point to get back into the shares, and 12 times 2008 earnings is not a bad entry point, either.

Read the full version of

Dividend.com: J&J a Good Play

.

Plus, to listen to

Johnson & Johnson's conference call

,

click here

.

From

INTC Preview: Any Impact From Meltdown?

:

There are only two questions on investor's minds going in to the

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

call:

1. What impact did the company see in the third quarter from the softening economy and financial services meltdown?

2. What impact will those same factors have on the fourth-quarter guidance?

Other than that, there will be some questions on the recent announcements by

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

, but the company will likely decline to answer those as they are probably being addressed by the legal department.

Read the full version of

INTC Preview: Any Impact From Meltdown?

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RealMoney

access required).

From

Intel Offers Tepid Outlook

:

"As we look to Q4, it is hard to know what impact the financial crisis will have on end customer demand," CEO Paul Otellini said in a statement Tuesday.

The chipmaker boosted its gross profit margin to 58.9% from 55.4% in the third quarter, thanks to lower costs and a higher portion of microprocessor sales in its revenue.

While the average selling prices of its microprocessors were down sequentially on account of its new low-price Atom chip designed for inexpensive netbook PCs, Intel said it had record unit shipments of microprocessors and chipsets during the quarter.

Read the full version of

Intel Offers Tepid Outlook

.

Plus, to listen to

Intel's conference call

,

click here

.

Coca-Cola and JPMorgan Chase

From

KO Preview: Very Undervalued

:

Coke's

(KO) - Get Report

management has pointed to a long-term volume gain of 3% to 4%, which will likely be 1.5% in 2009 by Street consensus expectations, with the biggest weakness in the U.S. and Mexico but with increased worldwide economic weakness.The company will likely have a 5% concentrate price hike in the U.S., however, which is about 20% of earnings, and concentrate price hikes along with other bottlers' price hikes in many geographical regions to catch up with commodity costs. With private label not gaining share and having margin problems, too, I would expect these price increases to stick with volume declines being the only downside. That could allow a high-single-digit EPS increase in 2009.

Read the full version of

KO Preview: Very Undervalued

(

RealMoney

access required).

From

Coca-Cola Earnings Rise 14% as Sales Jump

:

Coca-Cola said Wednesday its international operations, particularly in emerging markets, continue to drive its growth offsetting challenges in North America. The company said it anticipates the operating environment, especially in North America, will continue to be challenging through 2008 and into 2009.

Unit case volume rose 5% in the third quarter, Coca-Cola said. International operations saw 7% unit case volume growth in the quarter. North America unit case volume declined 2%. Read the full version of

Coca-Cola Earnings Rise 14% as Sales Jump

.

Plus, to listen to

Coca-Cola's conference call

,

click here

.

From

JPM Preview: Various Wild Cards in Play

:

The analyst community expects

JPMorgan

(JPM) - Get Report

to report a loss of 17 cents per share on net revenue of $16.01 billion. In the year-ago quarter, the company earned a profit of 97 cents per share on revenue of $16.11 billion.

Frankly, these estimates are not worth the paper they are written on.

Read the full version of

JPM Preview: Various Wild Cards in Play

(

RealMoney

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From

JPMorgan Tops Third-Quarter Estimates

:

JPMorgan Chase reported third-quarter net income of $527 million, or 11 cents a share, above analysts' forecasts, compared with year-earlier earnings of $3.4 billion, or 97 cents a share.

The latest quarter includes an after-tax charge of $1.2 billion to conform loan loss reserves and an extraordinary gain of $581 million from the acquisition of Washington Mutual's banking operations, which closed on Sept. 25.

Read the full version of

JPMorgan Tops Third-Quarter Estimates

.

Plus, to listen to

JPMorgan's conference call

,

click here

.

Citigroup and IBM

From

Citi Posts $2.8 Billion Third-Quarter Loss

:

Citi

(C) - Get Report

said the loss from continuing operations in the quarter was $3.4 billion, or 71 cents a share, primarily because of fixed income writedowns and higher consumer credit costs. A year earlier, Citi reported net income of $2.2 billion, or 44 cents a share.

"While our third-quarter results reflect both a difficult environment as well as continued writedowns on our legacy assets, we are making excellent progress on the parts of our business we control, including expense reduction, headcount, and balance sheet and capital management," said Vikram Pandit, Citi's CEO.

Read the full version of

Citi Posts $2.8 Billion Third-Quarter Loss

.

From

Citi: We'll Deal Another Day

:

Citigroup, fresh off a defeat in its fight to acquire

Wachovia

(WB) - Get Report

, is in no rush to deploy the $25 billion capital injected this week by the U.S. Treasury in a new acquisition.

Don't miss "

Equity Gives Feds More Bank for the Buck

"

Citi CFO Gary Crittenden said on a conference call to discuss the firm's third-quarter earnings that the bank felt good about its capital position before the government's equity investment. But as consumer credit conditions continue to materially decline, Citi plans to proceed cautiously.

"This represents in many ways something we had not counted on, something we hadn't planned for, and it does represent then the possibility of our taking advantage of opportunities that otherwise might have been foreclosed to us," Crittenden said.

"If it makes sense for us, if it grows our business ... furthers our strategic agenda in some way that's fundamental then we'll use it in that way," Crittenden continued. "But we're not going to treat this as a windfall and in some way back off of the other measures to get the company fit because we have this as an additional capital capacity."

Read the full version of

Citi: We'll Deal Another Day

.

Plus, to listen to

Citigroup's conference call

,

click here

.

From

IBM Hangs Tough

:

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

financial chief Loughridge sought to dispel fears on the call

Oct. 16 that the company would lose revenue from troubled banking clients, face a credit crunch, or suffer a serious downturn due to an economic contraction.

Although financial institutions account for 28% of IBM's revenue, only 1% comes from the 21 financial institutions worldwide that have been identified as troubled, according to Loughridge.

And he reassured investors that the company won't run dry of working capital any time soon. "We have a strong liquidity position," including $10 billion in cash..."

As for a market slowdown, "we would have to have major markets fall off much more significantly, and we just don't see that in the data," Loughridge said. He pointed to higher short-term contract signings and a good pipeline.

"We'd have to see a dramatic slowdown in our emerging countries," where the company is still seeing high double-digit growth.

Read the full version of

IBM Hangs Tough

.

Plus, to listen to

IBM's conference call

,

click here

.

Continue to sharpen your earnings season skills on the next page:

The Finance Professor: Beginner's Guide to Earnings Calls

Five Missteps to Avoid in Earnings Season

Conference Calls: The Good, the Bad, the Misunderstood

To Guide or Not to Guide: A Look at Earnings Guidance

From

The Finance Professor: Beginner's Guide to Earnings Calls

:

Step 1. Preview the Call

Note the benchmarks and metrics:

This is the most important part of the preview phase. You need to ascertain Wall Street analysts' consensus and range of estimates for EPS (earnings per share) and revenue. See how these consensus estimates have changed over the period of time since the last earnings release.

Also, obtain the expectations for company-specific or industry-specific metrics such as same-store sale comparisons ("comps" in Wall Street vernacular), gross margins, unit sales, traffic acquisition costs and other metrics. Integrate into this analysis any preannouncements (good or bad) or intraquarter press releases, business updates, sales statements, new product releases, management changes, regulatory or legal investigations and other corporate developments or initiatives.

Read the full version of

The Finance Professor: Beginner's Guide to Earnings Calls

.

From

Five Missteps to Avoid in Earnings Season

:

2: Not Considering the Future

We are conditioned to focus on the company's most-recent results, which frequently zero in on EPS, revenues, margins or unit sales. So much energy is expended in trying to model-up (see earnings estimates) these results that the future is often an afterthought. However, some of the basic tenets of security analysis dictate that the value of a company is the

present

value of its

future

stream of earnings and dividends.

All too often, a company reports a fine quarter, beating analysts' consensus, but then a few minutes later confesses that the following quarter or year will not be all that it was cracked up to be and provides disappointing guidance.

The current results will send a false buy signal to the uniformed investor. What will really make the stock move will be the disappointing guidance. Be careful. Reserve your judgment on a stock until both the current results and the future guidance are in hand.

Read the full version of

Five Missteps to Avoid in Earnings Season

.

From

Conference Calls: The Good, the Bad, the Misunderstood

(Jan. 2):

Good: Apple, Research In Motion and Dick's Sporting Goods

It's hard to say which one of last quarter's

end of 2007 good conference calls can be regarded as the best (because there are several really good ones). However, three calls do stand out in my mind:

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

,

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

and

Dick's Sporting Goods

(DKS) - Get Report

. All of these companies' quarterly reports and earnings conference calls delivered affirmation to the bulls.

Here a few characteristics that each of these calls shared:

Reported better-than-expected results for the most recent quarter.

Provided robust guidance for the upcoming quarter.

Quelled any concerns regarding issues that may have lingered with the naysayers, particularly that these companies would be adversely affected by a slowing consumer or economy.

Demonstrated opportunities for continued future growth.

Caught the short-sellers off guard, with stocks spiking significantly the day after the earnings announcements.

Read the full version of

Conference Calls: The Good, the Bad, the Misunderstood

(Jan. 2).

From

Conference Calls: The Good, the Bad, the Misunderstood

(Aug. 21):

Bad: Boeing

July 23, 2008: Before

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

reported its second quarter results, analysts expected the company to earn $1.22 per share on revenue (or sales) of $17.24 billion. In the year-ago quarter, Boeing earned $1.35 per share on sales of $17.03 billion. Instead, Boeing reported a second quarter 2008 EPS of $1.16 on revenue of $16.96 billion. Included in the bottom-line EPS figure was a one-time charge of 22 cents per share. So excluding the charge, Boeing earned $1.38 for the accounting period.

On the surface, the results may have looked promising. However, if you listened to this conference call, you would glean the problems that are mounting at Boeing.

Boeing's 787 project delays and increasing costs continue to be a major drag on the company. I believe that Boeing will be an "event-driven" stock in the next year, as its fortunes will be directly related to the 787 project.

Read the full version of

Conference Calls: The Good, the Bad, the Misunderstood

(Aug. 21).

To listen to a wide range of conference calls, visit

TheStreet.com's

Earnings Releases section

, which features free Webcasts of calls.

From

To Guide or Not to Guide: A Look at Earnings Guidance

:

Using the First Call Company Issued Guidelines (CIG) and Factiva news databases, we compiled a sample of 222 firms that stopped giving guidance between the first quarter of 2002 and the first quarter of 2005, along with a sample of 676 guidance maintainers. "Guidance stoppers" were firms that issued guidance for at least three out of the four pre-event quarters, but gave no guidance for any of the four post-event quarters. Those that provided guidance for at least three out of the four quarters in both the pre- and post-event periods were termed "guidance maintainers."

First we examined the financial reasons for stopping guidance. Compared with the guidance maintainers, we found that guidance stoppers in each quarter before they stopped guidance reported losses and earnings declines (compared with the year-before quarter) more frequently, while guidance maintainers met or beat consensus forecasts more frequently. Compared with the overall population of U.S. firms, guidance stoppers performed worse in each of these three areas while guidance maintainers performed better. More important, we found that as the stoppers approached the event quarter, they

increasingly

suffered losses, earnings declines, and a failure to meet or beat analyst consensus. This pattern was reversed for the maintainers.

Read the full version of

To Guide or Not to Guide: A Look at Earnings Guidance

.

To stay up to date on the current earnings season, don't miss the "Earnings Watch" stories in

TheStreet Picks

.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.