NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Ready or not, the first technology earnings season of 2013 has arrived. Investors will focus on the companies reporting next week for insight into the health of the economy, as well as clues about what we should expect from the long line of earnings reports.If earnings season is anything, it's volatility on overdrive. Prodigious peril and rewards await at every step of the way, and if you don't have your game plan ready along with the mental fortitude to execute flawlessly, you become roadkill fast.
We can't look at the numbers ahead of time, but that doesn't mean we are left entirely in the dark. The most beneficial tools I use to help guide my way are daily and weekly charts. By looking at the historical performance based on past earnings misses and beats, we achieve a better understanding of what to expect in terms of price movement for any given result. MSFT data by YCharts
Microsoft ( MSFT) Microsoft Corporation develops, licenses, and supports a range of software products and services for various computing devices worldwide. 52-Week Range: $26.26 to $32.89 Price-to-Book: 3.3 Investors are looking forward to improving third-quarter earnings after the market closes on April 18. The consensus opinion is currently 76 cents a share, a progression of 16 cents (21%) from 60 cents during the corresponding period last year. The lowest analyst estimate is 61 cents per share, and the highest is 82 cents. Analysts, as a whole, like this company. Currently, Microsoft has 23 buy recommendations out of 38 analysts covering the company, along with 15 holds, and none of the analysts give a sell rating. The average analyst target price for Microsoft is $32.85. After the recent strong surge in share price that blasted through the 200-day moving average, the shares settled back lower to retest the widely followed indicator. I believe this is a base of support and Microsoft is a buy in front of earnings. The dividend is the key safety net for holding long.