4 Dates to Circle in September

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Earthquakes and hurricanes shook things up in August, but this is September now.

There are plenty of manmade events that will shape the market in the coming weeks.

Here are a few of the days that I plan to approach with eyes wide open this month.

Sept. 1
The most important month -- ever -- for Netflix (NAS: NFLX) begins today. After all, this is the month where its existing subscribers will begin paying as much as 60% more to continue to stream video and receive optical discs by mail.

It's a defining moment for the service, and one that will either find the company validating its model with chunkier margins to boot or leave Netflix scrambling to cope with a dramatic uptick in churn.

Subscribers will begin paying the new rates through their September billing cycle, so we should know where things stand shortly after the end of the third quarter.

Netflix is optimistic. It sees 22 million of its 25 million U.S. subscribers paying $7.99 a month to stream from its growing digital library, and almost half of its users paying for both the streaming and DVD plans. How sticky is Netflix? We're about to find out.

Sept. 13
Best Buy
(NYS: BBY) reports its fiscal second-quarter results in two weeks. This used to be a joyous event for growth investors, but the consumer electronics giant has shorted out lately.

Best Buy has delivered three consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines in comparable-store sales and profitability. Analysts aren't all that excited about the meandering retailer this time around. They see Best Buy checking in with a profit of $0.54 a share, well short of the $0.60 a share it posted a year earlier.

The success of more nimble online retailers offering better pricing and the digital revolution that is replacing the demand for physical CDs, DVDs, books, and video games are making life harder for Best Buy.

Sept. 13 is also the day when Nintendo will be hosting a 3DS event in Tokyo for analysts and investors. All eyes are on the video game pioneer after a desperate 32% price cut on the handheld system that it had introduced just five months earlier.

Shares of Nintendo recently hit a five-year low, so any good news will be welcome. Nintendo will likely be hyping up new 3DS software titles that will be out before the holiday shopping season. Rumors are circulating of a radical redesign, but that seems unlikely since it would crush any holiday momentum that the August price cut may have created. New games and peripherals are the better bet, and even then Nintendo is still going to have a hard time against the improving quality of smartphone games that are practically being given away.  

Sept. 22
There aren't too many earnings reports slated for September, but an important one will come from FedEx (NYS: FDX) in three weeks.

Even if you're not a shareholder, FedEx's financials carry a fair deal of economic weight. If companies are sending more documents and parcels around -- and consumers aren't fretting over paying a little more for speedy deliveries -- the economy can't be doing all that badly.

Analysts expect FedEx to earn $1.52 a share for the quarter, a healthy 27% improvement over last year's showing.

Sept. 23
Few take terrestrial radio giant Clear Channel (OTC: CCMO) seriously when it comes to online streaming, but that may change in three weeks.

Clear Channel is hosting a two-day music festival -- brining some of the industry's biggest recording stars including Jay-Z, Coldplay, and Lady Gaga to Las Vegas -- to introduce the updated iHeartRadio app.

Clear Channel's existing app is already pretty popular. It offers smartphone owners free streaming access to 750 different radio stations from all over the country. However, Pandora (NYS: P) -- and to a lesser extent Sirius XM Radio (NAS: SIRI) -- will want to be paying attention when some of the new features are introduced.

"The new version is everything you want in one place," Ryan Seacrest teased during July's festival announcement.

"Real radio stations from cities across the country, and coming soon custom radio like Pandora but with more songs, more control, and no commercials through the end of the year."

Commercial-free streams from terrestrial radio? Things are about to get interesting here.

What will you be looking forward to this month? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy and FedEx. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Best Buy, FedEx, Netflix, and Nintendo, as well as buying puts on Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders if there has ever been a dull month on Wall Street. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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