Hunters love deer season, gardeners love spring and option players love forth quarter earnings. They are the most important not only because it is the biggest quarter for many companies but because it the quarter that ends the year and finalizes everything. Earnings are not as simple as made money or lost money, it is based on expectations. A company can have a great earnings but if Wallstreet expected more down it goes. If they match expectations most of the time a stock is going to fall. Companies that prerelease take the fun out of it and it is no more than providing more detail and guidance for next year. As for guidance, sometimes it is more important than the earnings. Wallstreet investors want to be told what to look forward this coming year. Guidance is almost always conservative and to me the only thing I don’t want to hear is lack of confidence in the upcoming year. I expected nothing more than bad from Alcoa, Lucent, and Dupont. To think these companies reflect the earnings season you are going to miss out. Apple preannouncing hurt people that were waiting to get in but if you aren’t in before MacWorld you haven’t been trading them very long. Without going into details about each company here is my favorite way to play earnings. Take the companies that are expected to have good earnings and play the at the money strike. Then ride the volatility all the way until right before earning and then sell. Vol always goes up a few weeks before. It seems to do real well for me. Many of my fellow traders also sell volatility going into earning hoping it won’t swing too hard after the announcement. Everyone has their own style and whatever it is this is the time to see if it works.