3 Predictions for This Week

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I went out on a limb last week and held up pretty well.

  • I predicted that Barnes & Noble (NYS: BKS) would post a quarterly loss Thursday. It was a pretty gutsy call. Analysts were holding out for a profit of $0.03 a share. However, I figured that the combination of softening bricks-and-mortar demand coupled with crummy margins on its Nook and at BN.com would eat up any shot at profitability. I was right.
  • As bad as camera chip designer OmniVision Technologies (NAS: OVTI) has been roughed up this year, I figured it would bounce back after posting its quarterly results. The report itself was mixed, but the guidance killed the stock. I was wrong.  
  • My final call was for Ulta Salon (NAS: ULTA) to beat Wall Street's profit targets, the way that the beauty salon and retailer has consistently done over the past year. Ulta earned $0.42 a share in its fiscal third quarter, buzzing past the $0.38 a share that analysts were expecting. I was right.

Didn't Meatloaf sing that two out of three ain't bad?

Let me once again whip out my trusty, dusty, and occasionally accurate crystal ball to make three calls that may play out over the next few trading days.

1. Shares of Vail Resorts will fall Wednesday
Vail Resorts (NYS: MTN) reports its quarterly results Wednesday morning.

Investors won't be judging Vail on what happened during the three months ending in October. When your business is running ski resorts, you know you'll be losing money during the fall quarter. We'll see how bookings are holding up as we head into winter, and here's where Vail may be challenged.

Despite last week's encouraging dip in unemployment, splurging on a ski trip won't be in the cards for many avid powder chasers.

One sign that things may be amiss was the company announcing a strategic shift in its lodging division last week. It will no longer seek to manage third-party properties outside of its six mountain resorts. There's nothing wrong with focusing on its strengths, but this move will also be accompanied by Vail making "selected staff reductions" in its lodging division.

Would Vail Resorts really be in cost-cutting mode if its phones were ringing off the hook?

2. Shares of Men's Wearhouse will rise Wednesday
If I'm down on ski resorts, how dare I be bullish on three-piece suits and tuxedoes? Well, I think there's plenty to like heading into Tuesday afternoon's report out of Men's Wearhouse (NYS: MW) .

For starters, the dip in unemployment means that folks are nailing job interviews, and Men's Wearhouse's 1,175 stores should be beneficiaries of folks looking for fancy yet economically priced suits.

I'm also a fan of trends, and Men's Wearhouse has posted better-than-expected profitability for 13 consecutive quarters. I think this will all add up to a quarterly report and conference call of solid trailing results and an encouraging near-term outlook on Tuesday night. The stock should move higher the following trading day.

3. AutoZone will beat Wall Street's earnings estimates
One of the more resilient niches over the past few years has been auto parts. Cash-strapped drivers are holding on to their cars longer, and that commitment requires an investment in maintenance. AutoZone (NYS: AZO) has been there to assist with replacement wiper blades, fan belts, and car batteries.

More of us are cracking open the hood and keeping our cars in top shape, but the real attraction here is how AutoZone has made mincemeat out of Wall Street targets in the past.

If analysts say that AutoZone earned $4.44 a share in its latest quarter, I'll take out a car jack and go higher.

One of my best tricks to beating the market is finding stocks that perpetually land ahead of the prognosticators. Let's go over AutoZone's past year of earnings reports.

 EPS EstimateEPSSurprise
Q4 2011$6.97$7.183%
Q3 2011$4.98$5.296%
Q2 2011$3.06$3.349%
Q1 2011$3.44$3.7710%

Source: Thomson Reuters.

Everything seems to be falling in place for another strong quarter out of AutoZone, even though I realize the level of beats has been decelerating over the past year. Are analysts finally catching up to AutoZone or is it just slowing down? Either way, it's a chance I'm willing to take.

Well, that's three predictions right there. Let's see how I fare this week.

If you want to see how these market calls pan out, consider addingUlta Salon,OmniVision Technologies, andAutoZoneto My Watchlist to track upcoming news.

At the time this article was published Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Vail Resorts. 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 calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick 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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