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As we roll into 2012, traders will waste no time in taking bets on Q4 earnings. The outcomes of these quarterly results will have a significant amount of influence over the direction of future market moves. The unofficial start of the earnings season does not begin until next week, but a handful of big names will be reporting this week. Here are four stocks for traders to watch ahead of earnings.

Chemically Balanced

On Wednesday after the market close, the crop nutrient company Mosaic (MOS) is slated to report its fiscal Q2 results. The company is coming off of a Q1 in which its diluted EPS rose 74.6% when compared to its prior year quarter. Mosaic’s net sales in Q1 were up 40.9% on a year-over-year basis.

Company management had previously said that it expected strong demand for crop nutrients in its Q2 and beyond as farmers look to replenish their grain and oilseed stocks. MOS shares have shed nearly one third of their value over the course of the past year.

On Thursday morning before the opening bell, Monsanto (MON) is scheduled to announce its fiscal Q1 earnings. Analysts are predicting the company will check in with EPS of $0.15 versus $0.02 in the year-ago quarter. Sales are expected to rise 11.7% over the same time period. Shares of MON have gained 2.2% since this time last year.

Price Conscious

After the market close on Thursday, the discount store chain Family Dollar Stores (FDO) will release its fiscal Q1 earnings. Wall Street is calling for the company to announce a 15.5% advance in EPS on an 8.4% improvement in total revenue when compared to the prior year quarter.

Family Dollar broke into the California market in November with the opening of four stores in the southern part of the state. The company is planning to add additional stores in the state during 2012. FDO shares are up 15.7% during the past 52 weeks.

One other stock for traders to keep an eye on this week is the warehouse club operator PriceSmart (PSMT). The company is expected to report a 16.0% increase in EPS versus the prior year quarter when it releases its earnings before the market open on Friday. Total revenue is expected to spike 21.9% on a year-over-year basis. Shares of PSMT surged 85.8% in 2011.

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Source: Ahead Of Earnings: Key Reports From Mosaic, Monsanto, Family Dollar And PriceSmart