A few months ago, this quarter was supposed to be special. The Wall Street Journal had reported back in July that Amazon.com (AMZN) would be introducing an Android-fueled tablet during the third quarter. And just a few days earlier, sources were also telling the Journal that Apple's (AAPL) new iPhone 5 would be launched this quarter.
My mother told me never to say a bad thing about unnamed sources, but the clock is ticking on both fronts. The quarter ends next week, and it doesn't seem as if we'll be seeing Amazon-branded tablets or shiny iPhone 5 handsets in the wild.
That's OK. The latest chatter has both companies hitting the market in October with their potentially disruptive gadgetry. If so, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility for either company to pre-announce the new gizmo, building up hype ahead of the telltale holiday quarter.
In addition to being on the lookout for MIA tech toys, there are other reasons to keep your eyes peeled. Let's go over some of the items that will help shape the week ahead once Monday rolls around.
Feeling well: Are folks still buying paper greeting cards? Apparently so. American Greetings (AM), which reports quarterly results next week, has posted year-over-year improvement in seven of the past nine quarters. Analysts see more of the same in Tuesday's report.
I'm typically baffled by the greeting card and stationary giant's financial performances. We live in dot-com-savvy times, so why spring for a costly card when free Facebook greetings are more convenient and cheaper?
I keep wanting to send American Greetings a "get well soon" card, but that opportunity isn't materializing.
Hakuna matata means no worries: You have to feel sorry for Contagion and The Help as a 17-year-old cartoon booted them from the top of the box office this past weekend.
Disney's (DIS) The Lion King -- now in 3-D -- took in more than $30 million in domestic multiplex receipts. Whether it's nostalgia or just a lack of quality kid-friendly fare, the film's surprising showing may inspire Disney to dust off more of its classics.
The strong showing is a surprise because Disney was only planning a two-week run, following that up a few days later with a retail release on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3-D. One has to wonder how things will play out if The Lion King roars in its second week. Would Disney and exhibitors extend the run? There are apparently a lot more people out there wanting to see Simba avenge his father's death.
Is the economy's check in the mail yet?: Paychex (PAYX), one of corporate America's better bellwethers, reports next week. The company provides payroll, human resources, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses where it's not cost effective to man these essential posts in-house.
As you can imagine, a company that handles paychecks and other employee-related matters probably has a pretty good read on the state of the economy. Yes, earnings and free cash flow dipped in 2008 and 2009, mirroring the recessionary softness and rise in unemployment. Results have been climbing since then, and Wall Street is looking for modest income improvement in next week's report.
Netflix waiting to exhale: There's no scheduled announcement pending out of Netflix (NFLX), but there seems to be at least one juicy nugget dropping every week this month about the video buffet operator. Why should the final week of September be any different?
For those playing at home:
The month began with Starz (LSTZA) announcing that it would not be renewing its content-streaming deal with Netflix when the current contract runs out early next year.
Then there was a minor flap over streaming restrictions that broke during the Labor Day weekend.
But the real fireworks came later in the month when Netflix hosed down its domestic subscriber targets and then went on to reveal that it will move its DVD rental recipients to Qwikster.com and add video games to the mail service.
Netflix could certainly use a week to exhale. Two months ago the stock hit a new all-time high. This week it hit a new 52-week low. Netflix is unlikely to be quiet if the lows continue, so keep an eye on the company next week.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not owns shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for Disney and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com, Walt Disney, Apple, Netflix, and Paychex. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bear put spread position in Netflix. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple.
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