What to Watch This Week: Race Cars, Used Cars, 3-D and Retail
Here are some of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.
1. It's Best Buy all over again -- or not: After taking in Best Buy's (BBY) disappointing quarterly report last week, smaller consumer electronics retailer Conn's (CONN) steps up with its latest financials on Tuesday.
Investors are holding out for a far stronger report, and it's easy to see why.
Conn's may sell the same TVs and computers that aren't moving at Best Buy these days, but it also emphasizes furniture, appliances, mattresses, and even lawn equipment. These are big, bulky items that aren't purchased so easily online.
Best Buy may be suffering from shoppers downloading books, movies, songs, and video games instead of buying physical copies, but Conn's will never have to worry about someone trying to download a king-sized mattress. And can you imagine the shipping costs on a zero-turn mower or a living room sectional?
This doesn't mean that Conn's hasn't had its challenges. The recession was hard on many consumer-facing companies. However, the smaller retailer with bigger things should hold up far better than Best Buy did this past Thursday.
2. Watch out for that iceberg: It has been nearly 15 years since James Cameron's Titanic thrilled moviegoers en route to becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time. It's a record that stood all the way until Cameron himself broke it a dozen years later with Avatar.
Well, the classic is back -- now digitally re-mastered in 3-D -- for a limited time at a multiplex near you. If you're still getting shut out of The Hunger Games, or if Wrath of the Titans doesn't appeal to you, there's always Titanic in three dimensions. Thousands of movie theaters and even 149 IMAX (IMAX) screens will begin running the movie on Friday.
3. Waving the checkered flag: If you have ever seen the Daytona 500 or chuckled at Will Ferrell's antics in Talladega Nights, you're probably already familiar with International Speedway's (ISCA) properties.
The motorsports promoter operates 13 of the country's most popular racetracks, including Florida's Daytona and Alabama's Talladega.
Watching fast cars go around a track hundreds of times has a mesmerizing appeal to many people in this country, and International Speedway has been there to cash in. It also owns and operates Motor Racing Network, the country's largest independent sports radio network, for fans who can't come out to the speedway or watch a race on national TV.
This may seem like an all-weather business, but it's not expected to play out that way when International Speedway reports on Tuesday. Analysts see revenue and earnings declining 10% and 20%, respectively.
4. This used-car seller is no lemon: Buying a used car once meant dealing with over-the-top dealers performing hard sells as they tried to clear dormant automobiles off their lot. (Any old-timers out there remember Kurt Russell in 1980's Used Cars as the sleazy Rudy Russo, who would go so far as to tie a $10 bill to a fishing line to lure potential buyers?)
Well, some of those establishments exist today, but CarMax (KMX) has done quite a bit to help clean up the industry's reputation. The company's clean showrooms, huge network of inventory, and "no haggle" pricing actually make it easy to go in and buy a pre-owned vehicle.
It will be interesting to see how CarMax holds up now that new-car sales are starting to spike after years of pent-up demand during the economic downturn. Will folks still be craving used cars in an improving economy? If CarMax has an answer, it'll tell us when it reports on Thursday.
5. No ticker tape parade on Friday: If you want to make any market moves this week -- from actual trades to actually funding retirement plans ahead of this year's April 17 deadline -- you will only have four days to get it done.
All of this country's exchanges will be closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday.
After seeing the market race to double-digit gains through the first three months of the year, Wall Street deserves the day off.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not owns shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of IMAX and International Speedway.