What to Watch This Week: Games, Stores, IPOs, and Nike Fuel
There's never a dull moment on Wall Street, especially now that the market's climbing as nicely as Jeremy Lin's stock over the past two weeks. Let's go over some of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead.
1. Vital signs for Vita: The video game industry has been slowly slipping for three years, and Sony (SNE) has fared even worse.
Despite a series of price cuts on the PlayStation console over the years, the PS3 just isn't selling as briskly as the Xbox 360. Sony will turn its attention to the handheld gaming market with tomorrow's debut of the PlayStation Vita.
It won't be pretty. Sony has stubbornly stuck to its high price of $250 (and $300 for the 3G version). After a strong initial week in Japan, sales of the PS Vita have fallen sharply. It may not get any easier with this week's stateside launch. Rival Nintendo (NTDOY) thought it could make a name for its 3DS last year at the same $250 price point. A few months later, Nintendo was slashing its sticker price by $80 and giving early adopters a ton of free downloads.
Sony fans will argue that the Vita's specs run circles around Nintendo, and that's true. However, this is a battle that has rarely been won on spec sheets alone.
2. Retail roundup: Retailers tend to work off fiscal years that end in January. This accounting move makes it easier to take in all of the selling through the holiday shopping season in November and December, while also working in the inevitable returns come January.
Macy's (M), Saks (SKS) and Kohl's (KSS) are just some of the department store chains checking in this week, and analysts see all three chains posting marginally improved bottom-line results.
Other retailers will be cashing in as well. Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT) -- the two leaders in the discounting space -- are reporting. The truly thrifty may even wait up for Dollar Tree's (DLTR) financials tomorrow.
One of the few companies that won't see its earnings grow this time around will be J.C. Penney (JCP). The struggling chain had a rough holiday season, and is introducing a "Fair and Square" pricing strategy to woo shoppers with everyday low prices.
3. Freshmen on parade: Several companies that weren't even trading publicly until last year will also check in with their latest quarterly results.
Active Network (ACTV), Angie's List (ANGI), HomeAway (AWAY), and Skullcandy (SKUL) are four of the consumer-facing names that will open up to investors for their quarterly glimpses.
Active Network is the top online registration platform for endurance events. If you've run a marathon, triathlon, or even a 5K, there's a fair chance that Active Network was the company manning the Web-based registrations and promotion.
Angie's List runs a popular website featuring reviews of local services. Need a dentist? Is your roof leaking? Unlike other user review sites that can be easily gamed, Angie's List requires users to pay for access.
HomeAway owns VRBO.com and HomeAway.com, the two leading websites for vacation property rentals. Folks who want to travel but avoid small hotel rooms can book directly with property owners looking to milk some short-term rental revenue from their second homes.
Finally, we have Skullcandy, a maker of bright yet edgy headphones and earbuds. The market is banking on a profit out of HomeAway and Skullcandy, but not Active Network and Angie's List.
4. Fuel for the sole: Nike (NKE) is a company that may be better known for its athletic footwear and branded performance apparel, but now it wants to stake its claim in mobile health as well.
The Nike+ FuelBand hits the market tomorrow. The $149 bracelet records activity that the wearer performs through the day and translates into a four-digit score that Nike calls Fuel. The goal is for FuelBand owners to opt for more physical exercise in pursuit of daily goals.
Sounds hokey? It's not. Nike has quickly sold out of pre-orders, and the high-tech bracelets are already fetching a lot more than $150 on auction sites.
Nike knows what it's doing here. If it's able to encourage wearers to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or go out for a game of hoops after work instead of vegetating in front of the TV, it will be able to sell even more Nike shoes and sweat-resistant apparel.
Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not owns shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Nintendo, Wal-Mart Stores, The Active Network, HomeAway, and Nike. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Nike.