From the home of the Bloomin' Onion hoping that it doesn't make investors cry to video game publishers hoping that diehard gamers are still around, here are some of the things that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.
Monday -- Kissing LeapFrog Doesn't Leave You with a Prince
LeapFrog (LF) seemed to have struck lighting in a bottle -- again -- three years ago with the introduction of the LeapPad. The learning tablet cashed in on the iPad craze, even if the much cheaper LeapPad was very limited in what it was able to do beyond playing LeapFrog's educational software.
The low-end market has gotten even more competitive with cheap Android tablets, making it harder for LeapFrog to generate the same kind of buzz that made the original LeapPad (and earlier LeapFrog electronic learning toys) so popular. LeapFrog reports on Monday afternoon, and it's expected to post a widening quarterly deficit on a sharp drop in revenue.
Tuesday -- Game On
The video game industry seemed to have found new life when the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were introduced, but strong hardware sales haven't carried over into the developers making games. More than 12 million Xbox One and PS4 consoles combined have been shipped to retailers, but diehard gamers aren't buying as many games as they used to in the past.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%We'll get a great snapshot of the video game software market when Electronic Arts (EA) and Activision Blizzard (ATVI) report. The two largest video game publishers will report after the market closes on Tuesday, offering up recent sales trends but also their best reads on where the industry is heading later this year. They better come up big, or else diehard investors won't be pushing the "continue?" button.
If you're looking for a deal on Tuesday, warm up to a teacher. Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) is offering a "buy one get one free" to all teachers, faculty, and staff presenting a valid school ID. It's part of Teacher Appreciation Day. The BOGO deal runs from 4 p.m. through the burrito chain's closing on Tuesday, so don't even think about playing hooky.
Wednesday -- Musk on Parade
Elon Musk has become an icon for investors after Tesla Motors (TSLA) has been one of the market's hottest stocks over the past two years. Musk is also a guiding force in solar energy solutions provider SolarCity (SCTY). Musk will be busy come Wednesday afternoon as that's when both companies will host their quarterly earnings call.
Tesla Motors and Solar City are all about cleaner energy sources, but Tesla has been the more successful investment of the two.
Thursday -- There's Always Something on TV
We live in interesting times to be a broadcaster. CBS (CBS) and AMC Networks (AMCX) know this all too well. It's now no longer a matter of just trying to program shows that folks want to watch. CBS and AMC Networks have to decide what to make available as streaming content through third parties. They also have to figure out if the best model for the future will be to remain a free ad-supported platform or one that relies on cable subscribers to pay monthly fees. It's a trick question. They rely on both revenue streams to a certain extent. They still need to get the balance right.
CBS and AMC Networks report on Thursday. Investors may tune in live, or they can stream the conference call later on their time.
Friday -- High Steaks
Bloomin' Brands (BLMN) may have one of the hokiest names in the casual dining space, but it's hard to deny the appeal of Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill and Carrabba's. Bloomin' Brands now watches over more than 1,500 eatery locations. It also will report quarterly results on Friday morning.
Analysts are holding out for a mixed showing. They see revenue climbing 6 percent but earnings per share declining by 6 percent. Given the choppy results that we've seen out of most restaurant chains this earnings season, one can never be too careful heading into any eatery's report.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Activision Blizzard, AMC Networks, Chipotle Mexican Grill, LeapFrog Enterprises, SolarCity and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard, Chipotle Mexican Grill, LeapFrog Enterprises, SolarCity and Tesla Motors.
10 Easy Ways to Pay Off Debt
Wall Street This Week: Game Time, Musk's Day to Shine
"Your daily habits and routines are the reason you got into this mess," writes Trent Hamm, founder of TheSimpleDollar.com. "Spend some time thinking about how you spend money each day, each week and each month." Do you really need your daily latte? Can you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it four times a week? Ask yourself: What can I change without sacrificing my lifestyle too much?
Remove all credit cards from your wallet and leave them at home when you go shopping, advises WiseBread contributor Sabah Karimi. “Even if you earn cash back or other rewards with credit card purchases, stop spending with your credit cards until you have your finances under control,” she writes.
If you do a lot of online shopping at one retailer, you may have stored your credit card information on the site to make the checkout process easier. But that also makes it easier to charge items you don't need. So clear that information. "If you’re paying for a recurring service, use a debit card issued from a major credit card service linked to your checking account," Hamm writes.
Reward yourself when you reach debt payoff goals. "The only way to completely pay off your credit card debt is to keep at it, and to do that, you must keep yourself motivated," Bakke writes. Just make sure to reward yourself within reason. For example, instead of a weeklong vacation, plan a weekend camping trip. "If you aim to reduce your credit card debt from $10,000 to $5,000 in two months," Bakke writes, "give yourself more than a pat on the back."
“Establish a budget,” writes Money Crashers contributor David Bakke. “If you don't scale back your spending, you'll dig yourself into a deeper hole." You can use personal finance tools like Mint.com, or make your own Excel spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then scrutinize those budget categories to see where you can cut costs.
Sort your credit card interest rates from highest to lowest, then tackle the card with the highest rate first. "By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards," writes Mint.com spokeswoman Hitha Prabhakar.
To make a dent in your debt, you need to pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card statements each month. "Paying the minimum -– usually 2 to 3 percent of the outstanding balance -– only prolongs a debt payoff strategy," Prabhakar writes. "Strengthen your commitment to pay everything off by making weekly, instead of monthly, payments." Or if your minimum payment is $100, try doubling it and paying off $200 or more.
If you have a high-interest card with a balance that you’re confident you can pay off in a few months, Hamm recommends moving the debt to a card that offers a zero-interest balance transfer. "You’ll need to pay off the debt before the balance transfer expires, or else you’re often hit with a much higher interest rate," he warns. "If you do it carefully, you can save hundreds on interest this way."
Have any birthday gifts or old wedding presents collecting dust in your closet? Look for items you can sell on eBay or Craigslist. "Do some research to make sure you list these items at a fair and reasonable price," Karimi writes. “Take quality photos, and write an attention-grabbing headline and description to sell the item as quickly as possible." Any profits from sales should go toward your debt.
If you receive a job bonus around the holidays or during the year, allocate that money toward your debt payoff plan. "Avoid the temptation to spend that bonus on a vacation or other luxury purchase," Karimi writes. It’s more important to fix your financial situation than own the latest designer bag.