5 Things to Watch This Week: Games, Soda, Food, Mickey Mouse and Router Rooters
1. Gamers call in sick on Tuesday: With midnight releases at several retailers, Activision Blizzard's (ATVI) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 hits gamers' anxious hands.
This should be the hottest game of 2011. Last year's franchise installment -- Call of Duty: Black Ops -- had record sales of $360 million in a single day.
It's true that the economy is in a funk. Video game sales have been languishing for three years. This may not seem like an ideal time roll out a $60 video game. However, the game's popular multiplayer mode and online connectivity allow players to milk more than just a few token hours out of the game. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will keep gamers busy for months, or at the very least until Activision hits them with next year's installment in November.
2. Soda showdown: Is there room in this market for more than one personal soda-making system? SodaStream (SODA) has been a hit since last year's stateside push of its home-based water carbonator. SodaStream's starter kit, carbonators, and soft drink syrups can be found at most major retailers of home goods.
Now Primo Water (PRMW), a company that specializes in selling 3- and 5-gallon exchangeable jugs of water at supermarkets, is getting into the game with Primo's Flavorstation. Primo recently launched a dedicated website for the home beverage system, but we still don't have pricing details or the skinny on retail distribution partners.
Primo reports its quarterly results on Tuesday. Analysts are expecting a small deficit out of its flagship water business, but you know that they will be asking the company about the Flavorstation. If that doesn't quench their thirst for pop news, SodaStream itself will report the next morning.
3. It's the food that makes it good: SYSCO (SYY) reports on Monday morning. The company may not be a household name, but it's the undisputed leader in this country when it comes to institutional food service.
If SYSCO's report leaves you hungry for more, Wendy's (WEN) reports later in the week. It should be an important report for the country's third-largest burger chain. It redid its signature burger toward the end of the quarter, and that's the first time that Wendy's has done that in 42 years. It also brought back the old "Where's the beef?" tagline in its latest commercial. I guess we know which burger giant is in a retro mood these days.
4. Remember SYSCO's phonetic twin?: From SYSCO to Cisco (CSCO), the latter is the networking gear giant that for a brief spell 11 years ago was actually the country's most valuable company. Things haven't been as kind to the router giant on this side of the dot-com bubble, and competition has been fierce for many of Cisco's networking products.
Cisco is no longer a $500 billion company, but it's still a very important tech bellwether. If companies are spending on IT again and beefing up their networks, Cisco will be there. Unfortunately, analysts see a slight dip in profitability when Cisco reports on Wednesday.
5. It all started with a mouse: From manning the world's most popular theme parks to broadcasting the world's largest sports channel, Disney (DIS) is no small-time company.
The family entertainment giant reports on its latest quarter Thursday. This will be Disney's first conference call since CEO Bob Iger revealed that he will step down when his contract expires in four years. The announcement was made to give Disney enough lead time to see if it has a worthy replacement internally, but investors may want to tune in to hear if the company addresses the situation.
How strong were the turnstile clicks at its theme parks this summer? Will ESPN take a hit if the NBA lockout doesn't end soon? Why did the Charlie's Angels reboot on ABC miss so badly that it had to be cancelled last month? Will Disney Channel host a reality television show to smoke out its next CEO? We'll probably get answers to most of these questions, but you already know the last one.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not owns shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard and Cisco Systems, has written calls on Activision Blizzard, and has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney, Activision Blizzard, Cisco Systems, Sysco, and SodaStream International, as well as creating a synthetic long position in Activision Blizzard.