July 22, 2015 / 7:03 PM / 2 years ago

What to Watch in the Day Ahead - Thursday, July 23

(The Day Ahead is an email and PDF publication that includes the day's major stories and events, analyses and other features. To receive The Day Ahead, Eikon users can register at . Thomson One users can register at RT/DAY/US. All times in ET/GMT)

Visa Inc, the world's largest credit and debit card company, is expected to report a third-quarter profit, helped by higher U.S. consumer spending boosted by lower gasoline prices and a strong labor market. U.S. consumer spending recorded its largest increase in nearly six years in May on strong demand for automobiles and other big-ticket items. EU antitrust regulators are probing Visa International's inter-regional card fees, after accusing MasterCard of levying excessive fees, earlier in July.

E-commerce company Amazon.com Inc is expected to report second-quarter revenue marginally above estimates, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, helped by growth in Amazon Web Services and sales in North America. The company broke out financial details of the cloud computing unit, a $5 billion business, for the first time last quarter. The company is expected to continue to report a loss, as it invests in products and services that ranged from Hollywood-style television productions to drone delivery and streaming video-calls.

Second-quarter sales of McDonald's Corp are expected to beat Wall Street estimates as the fast food chain's turnaround efforts gain traction. Steve Easterbrook, who took the helm in March, has been working to reorganize some business units, sell restaurants to franchisees and cut costs to turn the fast-food giant into a "modern, progressive burger company". Investors will look out for any updates to its turnaround plans and any forecast.

Dow company 3M Co is expected to post second-quarter earnings of nearly $2 per share on $7.83 billion in revenue, amid a shaky global economy that is causing concern for multinational companies. The company, whose shares have fallen some 5 percent this year, last month struck its biggest-ever acquisition to boost its presence in worker protection gear.

Mining and construction machinery maker Caterpillar Inc is scheduled to release second-quarter earnings. Hurt by downturns in the previously profitable mining sector, the company has made labor cuts in both U.S. and international factories. Last quarter, CEO Doug Oberhelman said the remaining 2015 quarters' sales and profit will be lower than the first quarter. Analysts look for mostly flat results as a potentially better construction industries outlook will likely be overshadowed by soft revenue in the company's resources industries.

The U.S. Labor Department issues weekly unemployment data. The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits is expected to have slightly declined by 1000 to 280,000. (0830/1230) In another report, the Conference Board is likely to show a 0.2 percent rise in its Leading Economic Index for June, after increasing 0.7 percent in May. (1000/1400)

AT&T Inc, the No.2 U.S. carrier, will report second-quarter earnings as its proposed $48.5 billion deal to buy DirecTV is expected to be approved by regulators. Investors will keep an eye out for any impact of heated telecom industry competition on margins and subscriber metrics in addition to details on conditions imposed by the FCC on the DirecTV merger.

Eli Lilly and Co, helped by cost cuts and new treatments for cancer and diabetes, is expected to report second-quarter earnings growth despite the stronger dollar and generic competition for its Cymbalta depression drug. The drugmaker, which has vowed to return to profit growth in 2015 following three years of patent expirations on its biggest products, is expected to outline research progress for many of its experimental medicines. Also, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co is expected to report lower second-quarter earnings and sales, hurt by the end of a longstanding agreement under which it had sold blockbuster schizophrenia drug Abilify in partnership with Japanese drugmaker Otsuka Holdings Co. Investors will be far more intent on how Bristol's respected array of cancer immunotherapies are faring in clinical trials and whether its recently approved Opdivo is on track to meet sales expectations of $750 million this year, growing to $3.75 billion by 2017. Biotechnology company Celgene Corp pre-reported second-quarter results and provided updated 2015 and longer-range forecasts. However investors will be looking for fresh management comment on its recent spate of deals, including taking a $1 billion stake in Juno Therapeutics and a $7.2 billion acquisition of Receptos Inc. Canada's Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc reports second-quarter results. The acquisitive company has been linked to reports that have it buying Zoetis and CEO Mike Pearson's comments about M&A plans are usually the headline from Valeant conference calls.

China will be a hot topic for General Motors Co executives when they report second-quarter results. Analysts are looking for profits of about $1.08 a share, up from 58 cents a share a year ago. Car sales in China have slowed sharply posing a challenge to the Detroit automaker which has counted on sustaining 9-10 percent profit margins in China to offset weak performance in other markets outside the U.S. Barclay's this week cut its rating on GM to "equal weight" from "overweight" and predicted GM management would have to lower its mid-term targets for China. GM also has trimmed production in Europe. So far, Chief Executive Mary Barra has shown no sign that she intends to lower her profit targets, and she has booming U.S. demand for GM's pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles to buoy overall results.

Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable TV provider, will report second-quarter earnings as the pay-TV market continues to grapple with stagnation. Wall Street will be keeping a close watch on Comcast's video and broadband subscriber metrics. Investors will also look out for details on whether the company's upcoming video streaming service "Stream" targeting its younger customers can make up for losses in the pay-TV growth and hold its own in the increasingly competitive online streaming service market.

No. 1 U.S. railroad Union Pacific Corp will report second-quarter results. Analysts will be watching to see how Omaha, Nebraska-based Union Pacific managed its costs and its networks amid sharp drops in coal volumes during the quarter and whether it was able to continue raising prices.

Starbucks Corp is expected to report strong third-quarter results as healthy sales trends and low costs for key ingredients such as milk offset the pressure from rising labor costs.

Dow Chemical Co, which has been benefiting from low raw material costs for making plastics, is estimated to report a rise in second-quarter profit. The company has been ramping up its plastics operations, while shedding low margin businesses to increase its focus on performance plastics, electronics and agricultural science products. The company, which is growing investments mainly in the U.S. Gulf Coast and the Middle East, cut 3 percent of its global workforce in May as part of a broader plan to reduce costs by $1 billion over three years. Investors will look for details on additional cost-cutting measures.

Second-quarter unit revenue is expected to decline for United Continental Holdings Inc and Southwest Airlines Co as the companies grow their capacity, and as United faces weak demand abroad from the strong U.S. dollar. Investors will listen for guidance the airlines give on whether they will lower their capacity growth plans in line with demand. U.S. regulators will be listening for the guidance too, as the Justice Department is investigating whether the carriers along with Delta Air Lines Inc and American Airlines Group Inc have worked together illegally to keep fares high by signaling supply cuts.

Under Armour Inc, the No.2 U.S. footwear company, is expected to report second-quarter sales above analysts' estimates, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, helped by higher demand for Speed Form and Curry One shoes. Under Armour, which typically beats expectations, had a rough first quarter hurt by high expenses following a couple of acquisitions. The company had raised its full-year forecast, which was still shy of street expectations. Last week, Under Armour brought in Dallas Mavericks' CEO Terdema Ussery as a president in a bid to grow its NBA-related offerings that are popular among young Americans. Investors will be keen on any changes to full-year forecast and any sign ups.

Boston Scientific Corp is expected to report a fall in second-quarter profit, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, as the company continues to face litigation charges. These charges prompted the medical device maker to cut its full-year forecast last quarter. The company is in the middle of court battles for claims alleging injuries caused by its transvaginal mesh device. In May, a Delaware Jury ordered the company to pay $100 million to a woman who said she was injured by the device.

Rogers Communications Inc, Canada's largest wireless operator and a major cable and media company, posts second-quarter results. Investors are expecting a slip in profit from a year ago on higher revenue, and will be closely watching subscriber numbers for any signs that losses are slowing or even reversing.

Copper miner and energy producer Freeport-McMoran Inc's second-quarter results will be squeezed by declines in copper, gold and oil prices, with analysts expecting a drop in both profit and revenue compared with last year. The market may focus more on developments in the company's oil and gas business, after Freeport-McMoran increased capital spending and filed for an IPO of a portion of the unit. There is also keen interest in talks that Freeport is holding with the Indonesian government to establish contract certainty before making big investments in its Grasberg copper and gold mining complex. Freeport's hefty $20.3 billion debt load is also an issue. Also, Teck Resources Ltd's second-quarter results will again be hurt by weaker metallurgical coal prices, outweighing small improvements in copper and zinc prices. The market will be looking for signs of a further dividend cut after Teck slashed its dividend by 67 percent in April.

Land rig provider Patterson-UTI Energy Inc is expected to swing to a second-quarter loss as oil and gas producers cut back on drilling amid a steep fall in crude prices. Patterson-UTI had an average of 122 rigs active in the second quarter, down from 201 rigs a year earlier. Still, the company has fared better than its rivals, helped by demand for new, faster rigs that help oil drillers cut costs and operate more efficiently. Investors will want to know if demand for these high-spec rigs will remain robust. They will also look for details on the company's cost control measures. Separately, Precision Drilling Corp, Canada's largest oil and gas rig contractor, is expected to report a bigger loss for the second-quarter as customers cut back spending amid a steep drop in crude prices. The company has cut jobs and reduced operating expenses to prop up margins. Investors will want to know more about the company's spending plans and demand for its rigs.

Dunkin Brands Group Inc, the owner of the Dunkin Donuts and Baskin-Robbins chains is likely to report second-quarter sales slightly above analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. The company had raised its full-year revenue and adjusted profit forecast in April after a strong first quarter and its deal to sell Dunkin K-cups at groceries and other retail outlets and online through J M Smucker and Keurig Green Mountain. Investors will look for updates on sales of its K-cups through Keurig and Smucker, progress on Dunkin's loyalty program and its plan to launch online ordering next year.

PulteGroup Inc, the third largest U.S. homebuilder, is expected to report a higher revenue and profit for the second-quarter, as it sold more homes at higher prices. Investors will be looking out for an update on full year financial forecast.

Investment bank and asset manager Lazard Ltd is expected to report a second-quarter profit helped by a jump in advisory fees amid a strong M&A market. Large deals drove M&A volumes globally in the second quarter of 2015, up by 34.6 percent year-on-year to $1.33 trillion as of June 26. Analysts' expect Lazard to benefit from recovery in European M&A market and strong gains at its asset management business. Lazard has been focusing on asset management to reduce reliance on financial advisory fees.

Online music streaming company Pandora Media Inc is expected to report second-quarter earnings slightly below analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. The company, which streams music by predicting listener's preferences, has been facing stiff competition from Spotify and Apple Inc's Beats. Investor focus will be Pandora's strategy to monetize mobile ad revenue that can reduce its losses due to high content acquisition costs.

Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever Plc will report second-quarter results. The company has done four deals this year in high end skincare, taking small steps toward its goal of repositioning its portfolio away from food toward personal care.

Swiss crop chemicals company Syngenta AG reports results for the first half. It will try to show it can offer shareholders earnings prospects that compare favorably against Monsanto's takeover proposal. Investors have voiced frustration about Syngenta's refusal to negotiate with the suitor and about what they regard as unwillingness to talk it through with the shareholders. Unfavorable weather and currency trends will make it hard for Syngenta to map out a long-term gain in margins.

Canada's retail sales are forecast to have edged up by 0.5 percent in May, a potentially encouraging sign for an economy that got off to a weak start to the second quarter. (0830/1230)

Brazil's statistics agency IBGE releases unemployment data for June. The country's non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate is expected to have risen 6.90 percent after rising 6.70 percent in May. Mexico's consumer price data from the first half of July will show whether a lasting weakness in the peso has helped lift inflation from above record lows as the central bank has been hinting it could. Inflation in the first half of July is likely to have increased 0.16 percent from 0.13 percent in the first half of June. (0900/1300)

LIVECHAT - CURRENCY IDEAS: Jeremy Stretch, head of forex strategy at CIBC Join us as we talk to Jeremy Stretch, who is head of currency strategy at CIBC at 0500 ET (0900 GMT) and who will be with us to talk about how the major currencies are likely to fare now that Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen has signaled a U.S. rate rise is looking more likely than ever this year. To join the Global Markets Forum, click here bit.ly/1kTxdKD (Compiled by Nivedita Balu; Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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