What to Watch This Week: Facebook, Zynga, Banks, eBay, and Solar
1. Face to Face with Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg has some new toys that he wants to show off this week. "Come and see what we're building," reads the teaser for a Facebook (FB) media event slated for Tuesday.
There's plenty of speculation about what exactly Facebook is building. This isn't Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, but you can be sure that tech tastemakers holding golden tickets will see some interesting things.
Zuckerberg revealed last year that he has a team working on a "social" search engine that would tap into the preferences of friend connections to deliver more relevant results than the traditional offerings that we use today. There's also chatter about video advertising, an expanded Facebook Gifts portal, and new ways to monetize mobile usage. As long as it's more than just a "hot or not" clone pitting Harvard coeds against one another, the market will likely be pleased.
2. Zynga's Killer Instincts: It was a rough 2012 for Zynga (ZNGA) investors, and many of its players weren't too happy either.
The leading developer of social online games shut down several of its diversions in December, and this week there will be another casualty. Indiana Jones Adventure World will be closed down on Monday. Despite the game's popularity -- Facebook shows more than 530,000 active monthly players on its website -- Zynga's been culling titles to focus on its more lucrative properties.
"We also want to help you find new games to enjoy," Zynga explains on the adventure title's landing page that has been warning of the Jan. 14 shutdown since November. However, after investing time and in some cases money on some of these diversions, players may want to think twice before they take up another Zynga offering.
3. Bankers on Parade: It may be time to bank on the bankers. Several of Wall Street's largest financial services companies will be reporting their latest quarterly results this week.
4. You Found it on eBay: It's true that eBay (EBAY) isn't as cool as it used to be. Instead of the virtual flea market of unique castoffs and birthplace of cottage industries that it was during its early years, the leading online marketplace is more of a place for established distributors to unload their wares.
However, financially speaking, eBay is as big as ever. There's also the company's faster growing PayPal platform which has become the financial service of choice for many online and now even offline transactions. eBay reports on Wednesday. Analysts see a profit of $0.69 a share, 15 percent ahead of the $0.60 a share it posted a year earlier.
JA Solar (JASO), Trina Solar (TSL), and JinkoSolar (JKS) all posted double-digit percentage gains last week. Solar energy investors had a rough 2012. Too many solar panel makers created a glut of inventory, and demand dried up in China and Europe as government's scaled back on their subsidies.
Will 2013 finally be the year of solar? Solar energy stocks tend to spike when oil and gas prices move higher, making solar a more viable alternative. However, it will ultimately require a shakeout to stabilize prices and global economies bouncing back to keep last week's rally going.