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Over 800 companies are reporting their third-quarter earnings next week – do you have a watch list prepared?

For ideas on how to narrow down next week’s roster, we ran a screen on the reporting companies for those with impressive profitability, beating their industry peers on gross, operating, and pretax margins.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.‬

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. (To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.)

Do you think these stocks will report strong earnings? Use this list as a starting-off point for your own analysis.

List sorted by difference between gross margin and industry.

1. AFC Enterprises Inc. (AFCE): Develops, operates, and franchises quick-service restaurants under the trade names of Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Market cap of $336.09M. Earnings to be announced on 11/07. TTM gross margin at 70.61% vs. industry gross margin at 35.44%. TTM operating margin at 27.19% vs. industry operating margin at 18.62%. TTM pretax margin at 23.54% vs. industry pretax margin at 17.85%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 18.59%.

2. MedQuist Holdings Inc. (MEDH): Provides technology enabled clinical documentation services and related revenue cycle solutions to clients in the healthcare industry in the United States of America and India. Market cap of $411.55M. Earnings to be announced on 11/09. TTM gross margin at 40.26% vs. industry gross margin at 21.30%. TTM operating margin at 15.0% vs. industry operating margin at 8.32%. TTM pretax margin at 6.91% vs. industry pretax margin at 6.75%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 20.95%.

3. International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT): Designs, manufactures, and markets electronic gaming equipment and systems worldwide. Market cap of $5.04B. Earnings to be announced on 11/08. TTM gross margin at 66.40% vs. industry gross margin at 35.44%. TTM operating margin at 26.31% vs. industry operating margin at 18.62%. TTM pretax margin at 20.24% vs. industry pretax margin at 17.85%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 23.09%.

4. Arden Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ARDNA): Operates supermarkets in Southern California. Market cap of $268.93M. Earnings to be announced on 11/10. TTM gross margin at 39.40% vs. industry gross margin at 24.79%. TTM operating margin at 6.63% vs. industry operating margin at 5.51%. TTM pretax margin at 7.30% vs. industry pretax margin at 5.17%. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 10.02% over the last week.

5. Motorcar Parts of America Inc. (NASDAQ:MPAA): Remanufactures and distributes alternators and starters for import and domestic cars, light trucks, heavy duty, agricultural, and industrial applications in the United States and Canada. Market cap of $117.65M. Earnings to be announced on 11/08. TTM gross margin at 30.81% vs. industry gross margin at 19.92%. TTM operating margin at 13.49% vs. industry operating margin at 7.79%. TTM pretax margin at 7.99% vs. industry pretax margin at 7.26%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 5.02% (equivalent to 6.65 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 23.85%.

6. Natural Gas Services Group Inc. (NYSE:NGS): Provides small to medium horsepower compression equipment to the natural gas industry in the United States. Market cap of $161.31M. Earnings to be announced on 11/08. TTM gross margin at 53.76% vs. industry gross margin at 34.88%. TTM operating margin at 22.43% vs. industry operating margin at 18.52%. TTM pretax margin at 23.67% vs. industry pretax margin at 16.08%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 5.12% (equivalent to 9.02 days of average volume). The stock has lost 14.35% over the last year.

7. W. P. Carey & Co. LLC (NYSE:WPC): Provides long-term sale-leaseback and build-to-suit transactions for companies worldwide and manages a global investment portfolio. Market cap of $1.53B. Earnings to be announced on 11/08. TTM gross margin at 74.20% vs. industry gross margin at 48.46%. TTM operating margin at 39.88% vs. industry operating margin at 35.04%. TTM pretax margin at 55.12% vs. industry pretax margin at 33.32%. The stock has gained 28.88% over the last year.

8. Lifetime Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:LCUT): Engages in the design, marketing, and distribution of kitchenware, tabletop, and home decor products under various company-owned and licensed brand names in North America. Market cap of $134.81M. Earnings to be announced on 11/08. TTM gross margin at 39.34% vs. industry gross margin at 27.08%. TTM operating margin at 6.46% vs. industry operating margin at 5.91%. TTM pretax margin at 5.26% vs. industry pretax margin at 3.87%. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.09). The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 6.11% (equivalent to 20.17 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 28.72%.

9. Nelnet Inc. (NYSE:NNI): Focuses on providing fee-based processing services, and education-related products and services in the areas of loan financing, loan servicing, payment processing, and enrollment services. Market cap of $983.91M. Earnings to be announced on 11/08. TTM gross margin at 60.75% vs. industry gross margin at 42.20%. TTM operating margin at 57.92% vs. industry operating margin at 41.39%. TTM pretax margin at 27.82% vs. industry pretax margin at 24.12%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 14.2%.

10. China Fire & Security Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:CFSG): Engages in the design, development, manufacture, and sale of various fire safety products for the industrial and special purpose infrastructure industries, as well as the design and installation of industrial fire safety systems in the People's Republic of China and India. Market cap of $249.52M. Earnings to be announced on 11/07. TTM gross margin at 46.86% vs. industry gross margin at 33.10%. TTM operating margin at 17.90% vs. industry operating margin at 12.89%. TTM pretax margin at 18.78% vs. industry pretax margin at 10.92%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 19.88% (equivalent to 11.15 days of average volume). The stock has gained 10.92% over the last year.

11. Monmouth Real Estate Investment Corp. (NYSE:MNR): A real estate investment trust. It owns, manages, and leases properties to investment-grade tenants on long-term leases. Market cap of $291.69M. Earnings to be announced on 12/12. TTM gross margin at 54.39% vs. industry gross margin at 38.84%. TTM operating margin at 54.39% vs. industry operating margin at 38.04%. TTM pretax margin at 28.08% vs. industry pretax margin at 15.33%. The stock has gained 3.33% over the last year.

12. Medical Properties Trust Inc. (NYSE:MPW): Operates as a real estate investment trust in the United States. Market cap of $1.08B. Earnings to be announced on 11/08. TTM gross margin at 53.06% vs. industry gross margin at 38.84%. TTM operating margin at 53.06% vs. industry operating margin at 38.04%. TTM pretax margin at 22.63% vs. industry pretax margin at 15.33%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 5.16% (equivalent to 5.22 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 15.49%.

13. Prospect Capital Corporation (NASDAQ:PSEC): A mezzanine finance and private equity firm that specializes in late venture, middle market, mature, mezzanine, buyouts, recapitalizations, growth capital, development, and bridge transactions. Market cap of $990.44M. Earnings to be announced on 11/07. TTM gross margin at 65.98% vs. industry gross margin at 48.46%. TTM operating margin at 65.98% vs. industry operating margin at 35.04%. TTM pretax margin at 55.60% vs. industry pretax margin at 33.32%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.5% (equivalent to 5.4 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 14.54%.

14. National Retail Properties, Inc. (NYSE:NNN): A publicly owned equity real estate investment trust. The firm acquires, owns, manages, and develops retail properties in the United States. Market cap of $2.20B. Earnings to be announced on 11/07. TTM gross margin at 51.45% vs. industry gross margin at 38.84%. TTM operating margin at 51.45% vs. industry operating margin at 38.04%. TTM pretax margin at 27.14% vs. industry pretax margin at 15.33%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 13.85% (equivalent to 7.88 days of average volume). The stock has gained 1.81% over the last year.

15. Global Indemnity plc (NASDAQ:GBLI): Provides admitted and non admitted specialty property and casualty insurance products worldwide. Market cap of $573.0M. Earnings to be announced on 11/09. TTM gross margin at 20.86% vs. industry gross margin at 15.92%. TTM operating margin at 19.76% vs. industry operating margin at 12.29%. TTM pretax margin at 18.0% vs. industry pretax margin at 11.26%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 17.39%.

16. Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM): Provides mobile voice and data communications services through satellites to businesses. Market cap of $456.10M. Earnings to be announced on 11/08. TTM gross margin at 67.05% vs. industry gross margin at 52.23%. TTM operating margin at 19.72% vs. industry operating margin at 15.69%. TTM pretax margin at 17.24% vs. industry pretax margin at 13.59%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 20.59% (equivalent to 17.87 days of average volume). The stock has lost 26.96% over the last year.

17. Sterling Construction Co. Inc. (NASDAQ:STRL): Operates as a heavy civil construction company that engages in the building, reconstruction, and repair of transportation and water infrastructure primarily in Texas, Utah, and Nevada. Market cap of $191.31M. Earnings to be announced on 11/08. TTM gross margin at 16.31% vs. industry gross margin at 12.74%. TTM operating margin at 7.51% vs. industry operating margin at 5.59%. TTM pretax margin at 7.08% vs. industry pretax margin at 4.77%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 15.72%.

18. Middleby Corp. (NASDAQ:MIDD): Designs, manufactures, markets, distributes, and services a line of cooking equipment and related products, primarily in the U.S. Market cap of $1.53B. Earnings to be announced on 11/11. TTM gross margin at 42.33% vs. industry gross margin at 33.10%. TTM operating margin at 17.33% vs. industry operating margin at 12.89%. TTM pretax margin at 15.97% vs. industry pretax margin at 10.92%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.17% (equivalent to 12.81 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 19.97%.

Profitability data sourced from Fidelity; all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 18 Strongly Profitable Companies Reporting Earnings Next Week