Thursday sees a raft of important companies reporting their earnings for the fourth quarter 2012. Firms reporting include luminaries from the tech industry, the financial industry, the defense industry and many others. Here’s our rundown of what to expect from five of the biggest reports.

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Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT): The fourth quarter of 2012 was one of the most eventful that almost any in the history of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). The period saw the release of the company’s new Windows 8 platform, along with new tablets and PCs running the operating system. Just as important was the launch of the firm’s Windows Phone 8, and devices associated with that.

Analysts are expecting the company to post second fiscal quarter earnings of 75 cents per share, compared with 78 cents in the same period last year. The company is expected to record revenues of $21.5 billion, compared to Q4 2011 earnings of $20.9 billion.

Microsoft has entered a period of uncertainty, and that has been reflected in the company’s share price. In the last twelve month’s the firm’s shares lost more than 8%. In the first weeks of 2013, the company has seen shares rise slightly, by just more than 1%. Analysts and investors will be studying today’s report closely for signs of weakness, or signs of strength.

Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK): Closely linked to the Microsoft Corporation (NYSE:MSFT) report, in the minds of analysts and investors, Nokia Corporation is reporting in a period of financial strain that many have speculated may end in bankruptcy. The firm has recorded losses for the last three quarters consecutively.

Analysts are expecting that pattern to change on Thursday. The company is estimated to have earned 5 euro cents per share in the last three months of 2012. The firm’s revenues are expected to have been in the region of €8.1 billion. During the same period in 2011, the company posted earnings of 8 euro cents per share on revenues totaling €10 billion.

If the firm hits analysts’ estimates, it is will record a 2012 loss of 24 euro cents per share. Revenues for the entire year will total €30.2 billion. The firm has been leaking money in recent years as it lost market share to other handset manufacturers. The company is expected to try to stem those losses by reducing its dividend, or getting rid of it entirely.

Raytheon company (NYSE:RTN): The defense and homeland security firm, Ratheon Company (NYSE:RTN) is expected to announce a disappointing fourth quarter on Thursday. The firm is expected to record earnings per share of $1.30, slightly down from last year’s earnings of $1.32.

Revenues for the three month period are expected to total $6.4 billion, flat compared with the numbers from the last three months of 2011.However, the company’s number for 2012 are expected to be a confidence boosting for investors.

For the twelve months to December 2012, the company is expected to post earnings of $5.53 per share up from 2011’s $5.28 per share, and inline with its 2012 earnings of $5.58 per share. The company’s total year revenues are expected to come to $24.4 billion, slightly down form the $24.9 billion recorded in 2011.

Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN) stock had a better than expected 2012, rising by more than 17% in the last twelve month’s . the opening weeks of 2013 have also been good for the firm’s shareholders. The stock has increased by more than 1% in the period.

Knight Capital Group Inc. (NYSE:KCG): this firm has seen its stock fall by more than 70% in the past year after what the firm described as a technology breakdown disrupted the prices of more than 100 stocks last August. The unusual trades led to a loss of more than $400 million, and the firm had to be recapitalized with money from investors.

Since then, the firm has traded tentatively, with investors waiting to see how Knight Capital Group would possibly rebuild its reputation. The answer came in August with the announcemet of a merger between the firm and Getco. Analysts are expecting the company to announce fourth quarter earnings of 3 cents per share, down from its Q4 2011 earnings of 42 cents per share.

Revenue for the company is expected to come in at $283 million, down from the 2011 post of $341 million. Knight Capital Group Inc. (NYSE:KCG) is a lame duck right now, until its merger goes through, but its earnings will be interesting to watch, if only to see whether the company managed a second round of erratic trading.

Starbucks Corporation (NYSE:SBUX): An optimistic first quarter for Starbucks Corporation (NYSE:SBUX), the company is expected to record earnings of 57 cents per share, compared to last year’s 50 cents per share. The firm is expected to post revenues of $3.8 billion for the quarter, compared to $3.4 billion in the same quarter in 2011.

Despite tax problems in the fourth quarter, the company is optimistic going into 2013, and the market appears to share that optimism. Starbucks Corporation stock has increase in value by more than 14% in the last twelve months, and more than 2.5% so far in 2013.

The company is expected to post earnings per share of $2.16 for the year ahead, as it expands into new markets, geographical and categorical.