Earnings season is winding down, with most companies already having reported their quarterly results. But there are still some companies left to report, and NutriSystem is about to release its quarterly earnings. The key to making smart investment decisions with stocks releasing their quarterly reports is to anticipate how they'll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever inevitable surprises arise. That way, you'll be less likely to make an uninformed knee-jerk reaction to news that turns out to be exactly the wrong move.

With a recent rise in attention to the obesity epidemic in the U.S., NutriSystem finds itself in the right business at the right time. But is the company taking full advantage of its good fortune? Let's take an early look at what's been happening with NutriSystem over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report on Tuesday.

Stats on NutriSystem

Analyst EPS Estimate

($0.14)

Year-Ago EPS

($0.04)

Revenue Estimate

$63.9 million

Change From Year-Ago Revenue

(4.5%)

Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters

0


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will NutriSystem gain or lose for investors this quarter?
Analysts have been mildly optimistic about NutriSystem in recent months, keeping their fourth-quarter calls stable but boosting full-year 2013 estimates by $0.02 per share. Yet the stock hasn't moved a lot, rising less than 5% since early December.

The weight-loss industry that NutriSystem has tapped into seems as though it would have clear and simple profit potential. Yet NutriSystem has struggled to be profitable, even as similar business models from Weight Watchers and Medifast have resulted in at least somewhat better results for those companies and their shareholders. For its part, Weight Watchers offers a more diversified experience with its grocery-store food products, going beyond NutriSystem's focus on custom-tailored meals delivered direct from the company and Medifast's meal-replacement shakes.

Moreover, the entire industry has been rocked by the big fight over Herbalife . With big-name investors Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn taking opposite sides of the battle, allegations that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme have had collateral damage across the industry. NutriSystem isn't a multilevel marketing company, but it's possible that potential customers are simply avoiding the entire space.

In its quarterly report, look for NutriSystem's new CEO, Dawn Zier, to give her vision on the future of the company and her strategy going forward. With her engineering background, Zier has investors hoping that she can engineer a turnaround that will boost the stock from its tepid performance lately and get NutriSystem making money again.

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The article NutriSystem Earnings: An Early Look originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter: @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool has options positions on Herbalife. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.

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