5 Things To Watch Next Week: Murdoch Mania, Gaming, Soda Wars and More


Many investors are still trying to calm their queasy stomachs from this week's roller-coaster stock ride. But, come Monday, Wall Street will open for business as usual, and the calendar is full of items that'll shape the way the week will play out.

1. Shop until comps drop: The back-to-school shopping season may be weeks away, but that doesn't mean it's too early to begin snapping up retail stocks.

Macy's (M), Kohl's (KSS), and J.C. Penney (JCP) will be reporting next week, giving investors a good cross-section of some of the country's most popular department store chains.

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Kohl's appeals to value-minded shoppers that are looking for bargains, but want to trade up from the discounters. J.C. Penney and Macy's cater more to middle class -- and in Macy's Bloomingdale's case, perhaps even upper middle class -- clientele.

If all three of these department store giants are too rich for your blood, there's always 99 Cents Only (NDN). The dollar store operator reports on Monday.

2. Get ready to haze the freshmen: Event registration specialist The Active Network (ACTV), Chinese social networking site Renren (RENN), and interest-rate tracker Bankrate (RATE) will report on their first quarters as public companies next week.

OK, technically this isn't really Bankrate's first time on the earnings stage. The provider of current interest-rate information from financial institutions traded publicly until it was taken private two years ago. It went public -- for the second time -- back in June.

There are several other reporting companies that weren't around as stocks a year ago. Chinese video-streaming site Youku.com (YOKU), Internet content producer Demand Media (DMD), and automotive website operator Bitauto (BITA) have all gone public over the past year.

3. How frothy can pop get: Another company reporting next week that wasn't public a year ago is SodaStream (SODA).

SodaStream sells a home-based water carbonation system and a range of syrup flavors. Everyone from Tori Spelling to Jim Cramer swears by the fizz maker, and investors are feeling fizzy too. The stock has more than tripled since going public at $20 back in November.

The key to SodaStream's success has been getting into the country's biggest retailers of home goods. Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) loves SodaStream because it brings shoppers back to its stores to buy more syrups and trade in their carbonators after their initial purchases.

4. Dial M for Murdoch: Outside of News Corp.'s (NWSA) own base of shareholders, few have cared about the company's quarterly reports in the past. That will likely change on Wednesday.

Forget the numbers. Investors will want to get to the bottom of the phone-hacking scandal that has already shut down one iconic newspaper and has sullied the reputation of Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

5. Game on: Fans of the Grand Theft Auto and BioShock video-game franchises will likely tune in to hear what Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) has to say.

Take-Two has no fear of pushing the envelope. Just ask parents that have walked in on their kids battling their way through Grand Theft Auto IV or the company's most recent Duke Nukem Forever. If it could, it would be making a game modeled after the News Corp. controversy. Murdoch Mayhem anyone?

Analysts see the software publisher posting a profit of $0.10 a share in its latest quarter.

This earnings season has been particularly good for gamers. Activision Blizzard (ATVI) and Electronic Arts (ERTS) have checked in with better-than-expected results.

Activision Blizzard, the country's largest software developer and the company behind the World of Warcraft and Call of Duty franchises, actually earned twice as much as Wall Street was expecting earlier this week. This creates favorable momentum heading into Monday's Take-Two report, but we'll have to let the company earn its way out of this level.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not owns shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Take-Two Interactive Software and Activision Blizzard. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Take-Two Interactive Software, SodaStream International, Bed Bath & Beyond and Activision Blizzard.

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