3 Top Stocks Catch Traders’ Attention Prior to Earnings Releases

FedEx Corp (NYSE:FDX) will unveil its latest earnings on Thursday, December 15, 2011. The average estimate of analysts is for net income of $1.52 per share, a rise of 31% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved down from $1.63. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved down. It has risen from $1.51 during the last month. Analysts are projecting profit to rise by 28.6% versus last year to $6.30.

Last quarter, the company fell short of estimates by 3 cents, coming in at profit of $1.46 per share against a mean estimate of net income of $1.47. The company topped expectations in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year. Analysts are projecting a rise of 9.9% in revenue from the year-earlier quarter to $10.58 billion.

Competitors to Watch: United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS), Air Transport Services Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ATSG), Air T, Inc. (NASDAQ:AIRT), OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX), Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) and Office Depot (NYSE:ODP).

Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) will unveil its latest earnings on Thursday, December 15, 2011. The average estimate of analysts is for profit of 89 cents per share, a rise of 39.1% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved up from 79 cents. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved up. It has dropped from 90 cents during the last month. Analysts are projecting profit to rise by 229.5% versus last year to $4.02.

The company has beaten estimates the last four quarters and is coming off a quarter where it topped forecasts by 27 cents, reporting net income of $1.18 per share against a mean estimate of profit of 91 cents per share. Analysts are projecting a rise of 13.1% in revenue from the year-earlier quarter to $1.81 billion.

Competitors to Watch: American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE:COF), Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), SLM Corporation (NYSE:SLM), MasterCard Incorporated (NYSE:MA), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), First Investors Financial Services Group (FIFS), Nelnet, Inc. (NYSE:NNI), CompuCredit Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:CCRT), and The Student Loan Corp. (NYSE:STU).

Accenture Ltd. (NYSE:ACN) will unveil its latest earnings on Thursday, December 15, 2011. The average estimate of analysts is for net income of 94 cents per share, a rise of 16% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved up from 92 cents. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved up. It has been unchanged at 94 cents during the last month. Analysts are projecting profit to rise by 12.6% versus last year to $3.83.

The company has beaten estimates the last four quarters and is coming off a quarter where it topped forecasts by 2 cents, reporting profit of 91 cents per share against a mean estimate of net income of 89 cents per share. Analysts are projecting a rise of 13.2% in revenue from the year-earlier quarter to $6.85 billion.

Competitors to Watch: Intl. Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL), Genpact Limited (NYSE:G), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), Towers Watson & Co (NYSE:TW), Infosys Tech. Ltd. (NASDAQ:INFY), Wipro Limited (NYSE:WIT), Ariba, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARBA), and Accenture Plc (XET).