What to Watch in the Week Ahead and on Monday, Aug. 10
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WEEK AHEAD Activity should begin to recede somewhat next week as Wall Street starts to vacate desks for holidays. Retailers are among the most prominent in terms of earnings, with Macy's and Nordstrom's reporting, among others, and the lack of action could mean the recent softness might continue in the equity market, and that the long end of the Treasury curve could continue to see more gains as corporate issuance declines and liquidity is reduced. But beware - August is also a time when strange things, like the Knight Capital blowup of 3 years ago - can happen.
On Wednesday, network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc is expected to post fourth-quarter profit ahead of Street estimates. The company has transitioning toward high-end switches and routers and investing in data analytics software and cloud-management tools to offset sluggish spending by telecom customers. Cisco has also been beefing up its cybersecurity business by buying companies, which has made its relatively tiny security business one of its fastest growing areas in the past two years. It will also be the first time new CEO Chuck Robbins, who took over from John Chambers in July, will be presenting the company's earnings in a conference call. Investors will be looking out for his comments around possible growth areas and restructuring initiatives. U.S. retail sales are expected to have rebounded in July after an unexpected weak number in June. Thursday's reading is likely to show an increase of 0.5 percent in July, compared to a 0.3 percent drop in the previous month. On the same day, the Labor Department releases July import and export prices. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department releases U.S. wholesale inventories data for June. Economists expected the wholesale inventories to have climbed 0.4 percent in June after adding 0.8 percent, a month earlier. Separately, the University of Michigan survey releasing on Friday is expected to show a rise in preliminary reading of consumer sentiment for August. Meanwhile, the Labor Department releases on Wednesday its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for June. On the same day, the Treasury Department is likely to show a budget deficit of $131 billion in July, compared with a surplus of $51.8 billion in June.
Macy's Inc is likely to report second-quarter profit below analysts' average estimate on Wednesday. It had forecast profit to be lower than a year earlier as it was forced to mark down merchandise received late due to a strike at the West Coast ports and as foreign tourists spent less at its Macy's and Bloomingdale's department stores due to a strong dollar. Activist investor Starboard Value took a stake in the company last month and said Macy's should consider spinning off its sizable real estate portfolio. Investors will be looking for comments on talks with Starboard and how the company expects the second half of the year to pan out. Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley speaks before the Rochester Business Alliance on the local economy and the benefits of workforce development on Wednesday.
Chip-equipment maker Applied Materials Inc is expected to report third-quarter profit below analysts' average estimate. Analysts expect the company's foundry business to be hurt due to lower spending by chipmakers. The company has been benefiting from strong demand for its equipment from maker of memory chips. Investors would be looking for fourth-quarter forecast, when it posts quarterly results on Thursday.
Symantec Corp, the antivirus and security software maker best known for its Norton antivirus software, is expected to report first-quarter earnings slightly below analysts' expectations on Tuesday, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Cybersecurity companies are riding a wave of demand from enterprises for network security in the face of sophisticated cyber attacks, But, Symantec, whose security products come bundled with personal computers, has been struggling with weak PC sales. Sluggish demand for storage and data management software has also diminished the value of its cash-cow Veritas business. Symantec is in talks to sell the unit to private equity firm Carlyle Group, a source told Reuters last month.
Department store operator Kohl's Corp posts second-quarter results on Thursday. The company could lower its full-year forecast, analysts warn, after first-quarter sales and profit were hurt by colder-than-usual weather in February and West Coast port issues. Investors will look for comments on back-to-school sales, and whether its efforts to integrate online and in-store shopping are translating into higher sales.
Perfume maker Coty Inc made news in July, entering an agreement with Procter & Gamble to buy 43 brands including Wella and Clairol for $12.5 billion. A senior executive said last quarter Coty's celebrity perfume business was a dying phenomena. The company's fourth-quarter revenue is expected to miss estimates. Investors will look out for comments on the recent acquisition and forecasts, when it reports on Thursday. On Friday, department store operator J.C. Penney Co Inc is expected to report second-quarter profit above analysts' average estimate. CEO Myron Ullman, credited with reviving sales and profit, has stepped aside, handing over the reins to former Home Depot exec Marvin Ellison, who began his job on Aug 1. Investors will be keen on hearing Ellison's plans as he embarks on his first quarter as CEO.
News Corp, the owner of the Wall Street Journal, is expected to miss analysts' average estimate in the fourth quarter on Wednesday. Like many traditional publishers, News Corp has been countering falling ad sales in the print business by slashing costs and tapping new revenue sources. Revenue in its News and Information Services unit, which represents about 65 percent of the company's overall revenue, has been hit as more customers cancel subscriptions and move to free websites for their daily dose of news. The company has been carrying out a major reorganization at its Dow Jones news publishing unit by cutting jobs and shifting resources to digital media. Continued...