What to Watch This Week: Tools, Toons, Togs, Blogs and Staples


From the changing lineup at the world's largest streaming video service to an office supplies superstore chain that's unlikely to showing super earnings results, let's go over some items that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.

Home Depot
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1. Home Improvement is Where the Heart Is: It's been a good earnings season for the home improvement specialists. Leading hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators (LL) and Trex (TREX) -- the top dog in weather-resistant wood-alternative decking -- posted blowout quarterly results a few weeks ago.

Now it's time for Home Depot (HD) to report on Tuesday. Smaller rival Lowe's (LOW) reports a day later.

Having the two home improvement retailers step up with quarterly financials on back-to-back days will provide a great snapshot of an industry that's on the rise. The housing market is heating up, and that's good news for Home Depot and Lowe's as they outfit buyers with the tools for home improvement projects. Firming real estate prices also give existing homeowners the flexibility to invest in their properties.

Analysts see both companies posting healthy improvement in earnings.

2. Netflix Content Cuts Both Ways: Netflix (NFLX) has been busy promoting this weekend's debut of the long-awaited fourth season of "Arrested Development." The cult classic will stream exclusively on Netflix. However, content deals also expire. Something that hasn't been as widely publicized is that Netflix's streaming arrangement with Viacom (VIA) ends on Wednesday.

You may not miss MTV's "Jersey Shore," but good luck convincing young viewers that everything will be fine after many Nickelodeon favorites -- from "SpongeBob SquarePants" to "The Rugrats" -- leave Netflix's digital library.

As SpongeBob would say, "oh tartar sauce!"

3. Thrifty Retailers Have Something to Prove: Discount department store chains have historically been all-weather investments, but that thesis was rattled last week when Walmart (WMT) surprised investors with a decline in same-store sales. Walmart figured that shoppers would be spending their tax refunds and taking advantage of lower gas prices to indulge in more non-fuel purchases. If these things happened, they didn't happen at Walmart.

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Target (TGT) and TJX (TJX) report on Tuesday. Target is the "cheap chic" chain that is a distant second to Walmart in sales volume, but it has done a good job in recent years of attracting fashionable penny pinchers. TJX is the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. Wall Street sees improving profitability at TJX, but it also sees Target posting a dip in earnings on flat sales growth.

4. Tumblr's No Stumbler: This past weekend proved to be a busy one with Yahoo!'s (YHOO) board agreeing to a $1.1 billion purchase of popular micro-blogging website Tumblr on Sunday. Tumblr has more than 100 million blogs, and users have posted more than 50 billion posts to the site. Online companies love user-generated content, and Tumblr certainly qualifies as one of the bigger players in that niche.

There will be some concerns. Can Tumblr be effectively monetized without alienating the user base? What about all of the risque content that's presently on the site? Which dot-com speedster will be bought out next? It will be an interesting week for watchers of Internet stocks as the major players jockey for position in light of this move.

5. There's No Easy Button Here: Despite encouraging signs on the economic front, Corporate America could be doing better. A great gauge of how things are going on that front will be available on Wednesday when Staples (SPLS) reports.

The country's largest office supply retailer reports its latest quarterly results. It probably won't be pretty. Its European operations have been a mess, and the turnaround has been slow closer to home. Analysts see sales and earnings dipping slightly at Staples. The key here will be if it provides an encouraging outlook. If Corporate America is back, how come companies aren't buying more toner cartridges and task chairs?

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot, Lowe's, Lumber Liquidators, Netflix, and Trex. The Motley Fool owns shares of Lumber Liquidators, Netflix, Staples, and Trex.