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Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK - Analyst Report) is slated to release its third quarter fiscal 2013 financial results before the market bell on Feb 5, 2013. In the last reported quarter, the aerospace and defense company posted a positive surprise of 25.68%. Let’s see how things are shaping up at Alliant prior to this announcement.

Factors to Consider This Quarter

Alliant’s lofty order bookings especially from international customers and a decline in the effective tax rate will act as catalysts for the company. The company’s ammunition price increase is also expected to boost revenues.

However, declining domestic orders from defense cutbacks are likely to hit Alliant hard, going forward.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Alliant Techsystems is likely to beat earnings this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive earnings Expected Surprise Prediction (ESP) (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method) and a Zacks Rank of #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. This is not the case here.

Negative Zacks ESP: This is because the Most Accurate estimate stands at $1.62 per share while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is higher at $1.70, resulting in -4.71% ESP.

Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy): Alliant’s Zacks Rank #1 when combined with negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult. We caution investors against the stock going into the earnings announcement, as a negative Zacks ESP lowers the possibility of an earnings surprise.

Other Stocks to Consider

Other companies you may want to consider on the basis of our model which shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter are as follows:

Esterline Technologies Corporation (ESL - Snapshot Report) has earnings ESP of +18.03% and carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Exelis, Inc. (XLS - Snapshot Report) has earnings ESP of +2.22% and carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Hexcel Corporation (HXL - Snapshot Report) has earnings ESP of +2.38% and carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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