Several companies are set to report their first quarter 2013 earnings on Thursday before opening bell. The five key reports we’ll focus on here are: Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX), Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) and Verizon Communications Inc.(NYSE:VZ).

Earnings

Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX) is expected to report between $1.03 and $1.05 earnings per share for its March quarter, compared to $1.01 earnings per share in the same quarter a year ago. Consensus for the healthcare company’s first quarter revenue is $3.5 billion, compared to $3.4 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Over the last four quarters, Baxter’s reports have been roughly in line with consensus.

The average view on shares of Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX) is a strong buy, according to Zacks Investment Research. Analysts from 17 top investment firms gave their ratings on the stock, and eight of them listed it as a strong buy, four firms had the stock listed as a buy, and six listed it as hold.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX) is expected to report 79 cents per share on $4.8 billion in revenue, according to a consensus of analysts polled by Bloomberg. The company pleasantly surprised investors during the previous quarter and also during the same quarter last year.

Of course Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX) stock has been trending downward since September as gold prices have plummeted. On Monday it lost as much as 8 percent as the rate of gold sell-offs intensified.

Consensus for the Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) first-quarter earnings report is 56 cents per share on revenues of $8.3 billion, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg. The bank surprised investors in the last quarter, beating expectations by more than 67 percent. During the same quarter a year ago, the bank posted earnings of 71 cents per share on $8.9 billion in revenues. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)’s first-quarter 2012 earnings were also much higher than expected by a consensus of Bloomberg analysts.

Investors could be expecting even more out of Morgan Stanley’s first-quarter report in the wake of strong earnings reports from some banks which have already reported: Citigroup Inc (C), which reported Monday morning, and Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC), which reported late last week.

Bloomberg’s consensus for PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) indicates expectations of 70 cents earnings per share on revenues of $12.6 billion. The company beat consensus during the previous quarter and reported revenue in line with consensus for the first quarter of last year. PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) surprised slightly with earnings per share during the first quarter of last year.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is expected to report earnings of 66 cents per share on $29.5 billion in revenue. Those numbers come from a consensus of 28 analysts polled by Bloomberg. That’s compared to 59 cents per share on $28.2 billion in revenue during the same quarter a year ago. Verizon beat consensus for its revenue during the previous quarter.

Last year Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) met consensus for three of the four quarters and beat consensus by 1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. In terms of earnings per share however, the company missed consensus by almost 25 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012.