Market News Call

Stocks to Watch This Week

Apple shareholders gather at the consumer device giant’s headquarters on Wednesday to hear directly from management after having seen the shares tumble in recent months from a high of just over $700 last September. To add to the drama, star hedge fund manager David Einhorn has embarked on a blitz to get Apple to loosen its $137 billion purse strings. It remains to be seen how much support he has among Apple investors.

After reporting weak holiday sales across the board, from its bookstores to its Nook business to its college stores, Barnes & Noble is under pressure to show investors where its future growth will come from. The retailer, which posts results on Thursday, has said it will close a third of stores in the next decade, so its best hope remains continuing to find investors for its Nook unit, a tough sell considering it is fast losing share to Amazon’s Kindle and other tablets. Barnes & Noble already issued a warning its Nook profit and sales for the year would miss its own earlier forecasts.

Liberty Media, fresh off its spinoff of premium movie channel Starz, reports results on Friday. Investors are curious about the media holding company’s stake in Live Nation, now that Chairman Irving Azoff has departed, as well as the direction of Sirius XM. Liberty CEO Greg Maffei will be leading the call and may provide more details on the search for a permanent CEO of Sirius XM.

Rival department store operators Macy’s and Saks report quarterly earnings on Tuesday. While Macy’s has already reported its holiday quarter sales numbers, investors will want to know if the retailer thinks it can keep its streak going in 2013 and whether the discount-heavy holiday season hurt its profits. Saks will be under pressure to tell Wall Street how it plans to rev up same-store sales, which analysts expect to be flat for the fourth quarter, a weak performance compared to Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, which are far ahead in terms of ecommerce. Later in the week, look for earnings reports from Target and J.C. Penney on Wednesday, and Best Buy, Gap, Kohl’s and Sears on Thursday.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co, leads his new team of managers in an annual day of presentations to Wall Street about the outlook for businesses operated by the biggest U.S. bank. Analysts and institutional investors at the conference in New York will be closely watching Marianne Lake in her first in-person appearance before the group as chief financial officer, a post she took at the start of this year after Dimon reshuffled his lieutenants in the wake of the bank’s London Whale trading loss of $6.2 billion last year. New chiefs of investment banking are also expected to make presentations.

Lastly, Hertz will post quarterly results on Monday. The car rental company, which acquired rival Dollar Thrifty in a $2.56 billion deal late last year, is expected to benefit from higher rental volume, especially in North America. Another highlight will be a strong domestic used-car market that has helped car rental companies to reduce fleet operating costs in the quarter. Hertz is also expected to provide its 2013 forecast as well as an update on the acquisition of Dollar Thrifty.


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