5 Stocks to Watch This Week: Apple, Ford, Zynga, Amazon and Nintendo

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Nobody can predict all the news that will break and move the markets in a given week, but here are a few things we do know: A U.S. automaker is cruising toward what should be another solid quarterly report, a struggling Japanese gaming giant will tell us just how badly it's losing, and the world's biggest e-tailer will probably make the markets smile despite thin margins. Let's go over those, and a few more of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.

1. Taking a bite out of the Apple: There will be plenty to prove as Apple (AAPL) reports financial results for its fiscal second quarter on Tuesday.

Analysts see profitability declining for the first time in a decade, and it's unanimous. All of the more than four dozen Wall Street pros modeling the consumer tech giant's business see earnings taking a dip this time around.

These same analysts see modest top-line improvement. Apple continues to sell smartphones and tablets. The rub these days is that too many of those iPhones and iPads are the older versions that Apple sells at lower markups to appeal to thrifty shoppers.

2. Ford tough: It's finally a good time to be an automaker.

The industry where two of the biggest three domestic players needed a government bailout a few years ago is revving again. Consumers are buying cars at the headiest clip since 2007.

Pent-up demand and the growing appetite for more fuel efficient vehicles have resulted in busy showrooms. Industry tracker Edmunds.com recently raised the number of cars that it sees selling in this country, and Ford (F) is sitting pretty behind the wheel.

The stateside car manufacturer that didn't partake in the government bailout reports on Wednesday, and momentum is positive. Ford was the big winner in March, reporting sales growth of 5.7 percent. It's been a positive first three months of the year for the company that Henry Ford built. On Wednesday investors will know for sure how the car maker's been driving when it reports fresh financials.

3. StockVille is a hard game to play: Shares of Zynga (ZNGA) rallied earlier this month after an overseas partnership resulted in real-money online gambling themed to Zynga's social properties throughout the United Kingdom.

Online gambling with real money isn't legal domestically, but investors are encouraged by the overseas potential.
The news probably won't be as encouraging on Wednesday when Zynga reports quarterly results. Bookings have been slipping as its more popular games begin falling out of favor. Analysts see a small deficit for the period, reversing a healthy loss a year earlier.

4. Amazon goes shopping: Online wagering may be illegal, but there's nothing stopping retailers from getting customers to pay up for merchandise through e-commerce.

Amazon.com (AMZN) is the market darling of Internet retailing. When folks throw the "showrooming" term around, they're basically talking about bricks-and-mortar chains losing out on sales to Amazon as shoppers use physical stores to check items out before buying them for less through Amazon.
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We'll get a clearer picture on how the leading online retailer is faring when it reports on Thursday. Wall Street's holding out for a 23 percent surge in revenue. Earnings will probably go the other way, but the market's cool with that. Analysts understand that Amazon is taking margin hits in the near terms to build out its audience of Kindle and Kindle Fire users. The payoff will come later, and investors don't have a problem with that.

Apple needs to hire whoever Amazon is using to make thinning margins look cool.

5. Wii the people: It was a disappointingly rough holiday season for Nintendo (NTDOY). The Japanese gaming giant introduced its Wii U console in November, hoping that an early jump on its two rivals would pay off.

It didn't. After soft initial sales, Nintendo hosed down its Wii U sales targets for its fiscal year ending in March.
Nintendo posted its first annual loss last year, and things have only been getting worse. It's likely to be an ugly financial report for Nintendo on Wednesday, but the great thing about video games is that the reset button is never too far away.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Apple, Ford, and Nintendo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple, and Ford. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.

5 Stocks to Watch This Week: Apple, Ford, Zynga, Amazon and Nintendo

By Michael Zak | AOL Autos

A recent Interest.com study looked at the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States to see which median-income households in those respective areas can afford to purchase a new car, the average price of which was $30,550 in 2012, according to TrueCar. The study found that in only one city can residents actually afford a car with this sticker price -- Washington, D.C.

Households with an average income in Washington, D.C. can afford a payment of up to $628, which would allow for purchase of a $31,940 vehicle. The next closest city, San Francisco, can only afford $537 per month, equating to a $26,786.

While it's not news that Americans like to buy things that they can't afford, the data is a little surprising given how many great cars there are out there for well under $30,000. Solid hybrids, CUVs, sedans and sports cars can all be had for less than this.

We've racked our brains and come up with 5 of the best cars that are cheaper than the average car's purchase price. These are affordable, versatile, fun and fuel efficient. Of course, there are some stinkers in this price range, as well, so we've included 5 vehicles we think you should avoid.

Subaru BRZ

MSRP: $25,495 - $27,495
Invoice: $24,327 - $26,112
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg City, 30 mpg Highway

The Subaru BRZ proves that driving bliss doesn't have to cost a fortune. The rear-wheel drive sports coupe is one of the most engaging vehicles on the road today, with utterly superb dynamics and looks. The best part? You can have one for $25,495.

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Volkswagen Golf

MSRP: $18,095 - $25,200
Invoice: $17,371 - $24,192
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 33 mpg Highway

Although the redesigned 2014 version of this handsome hatch will be on sale in the near future, the current generation is still worth buying. It's fuel efficient, fun and surprisingly versatile. Starting at less than $20,000, the Golf is also quite affordable.

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Toyota Prius v

MSRP: $26,650 - $30,295
Invoice: $24,809 - $28,202
Fuel Economy: 44 mpg City, 40 mpg Highway

The Toyota Pirus v is essentially a bigger version of the popular Prius hybrid. This hatchback acheives stellar fuel economy while allowing for transport of numerous people and all of their stuff. Starting at $26,650, you can have all the benefits of a versatile hybrid for an agreeable price.

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Mazda CX-5

MSRP: $20,995 - $28,595
Invoice: $20,396 - $27,771
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

The Mazda CX-5 is one of our favorite crossovers here at AOL Autos even when taking more expensive ones into account. Remarkably fun to drive, fuel efficient and starting at a low price, there's a lot to love about this agile utility vehicle.

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MSRP: $16,695 - $21,115
Invoice: $16,208 - $20,218
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

This small sedan continue to be the darling of both critics and consumers nationwide. Available with tons of standard features, great looks and sweet fuel economy, the Elantra is one of the best cars on the planet right now.

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MSRP: $18,995 - $32,820
Invoice: $18,770 - $31,334
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg City, 29 mpg Highway

The 200 is a holdover from when Chrysler was owned by Daimler and then private equity-firm Cerberus Capital. It's not that this car is awful, especially since the new Chrysler, managed by Fiat, made a series of improvements. It's that the other cars in this category are so good, and much better designed and engineered.

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MSRP: $18,725 - $21,815
Invoice: $17,789 - $20,725
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway

The Scion tC is intended to be a sporty coupe. The problem? It's not sporty. At all. In fact, the tC finds itself on the Consumer Reports list of the least fun cars to drive and we're inclined to agree with that assessment.

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MSRP: $18,995 - $30,795
Invoice: $18,800 - $29,276
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway

Short on features and with pretty poor driving dynamics, the Dodge Journey is one you should skip if you're shopping for a sub-$30,000 crossover. We're looking forward to Dodge's next attempt.

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MSRP: $25,900 - $29,200
Invoice: $24,452 - $27,507
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

Don't be fooled by the badge. This is not really a luxury car. With uninspired driving dynamics and a lackluster interior, you should pass on the ILX even though its low sticker price seems very tempting.

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MSRP: $12,490 - $17,890
Invoice: $11,616 - $16,638
Fuel Economy: 34 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

The idea of the smart fortwo is great. It's the execution that's the problem. The fortwo is loud, terrible to drive and really isn't all that fuel efficient, considering its size. There are way better options between $10,000 and $20,000.

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