What to Watch This Week: New CEOs, New Cars, New Homes and New Tech
Here are some of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead.
1. Yahoo's new employee orientation: After a few months of having its CFO serve as interim CEO, Yahoo (YHOO) finally has a new CEO.
Scott Thompson -- hired away as the head of eBay's (EBAY) PayPal -- begins his term as Yahoo!'s CEO Monday.
The market didn't exactly love the move, but it's not Thompson's fault. Speculators figured that Yahoo would be acquired soon or score the mother of all paydays by unloading its Asian assets. Bringing on a new CEO seems to indicate that Yahoo! has its sights set on staying a swinging single.
It won't be easy. Revenue growth has been sluggish at Yahoo in recent years, and Thompson doesn't exactly have a whole lot of experience in generating content-driven traffic or online advertising. However, it's not as if folks were beating down Yahoo!'s door to run the company given the way that its past few CEOs have fared.
Thompson starts with a clean slate, but he'd better work quickly.
2. Revving up for innovation: The North American International Auto Show kicks off this week. Press and industry reviews begin early this week, and the show opens its doors to the public Saturday.
There will be plenty of pressure on the car makers as they introduce new cars, show off new dashboard gadgetry, and see which ones can milk more fuel efficiency out of their vehicles without using batteries or engines that catch on fire. (No offense, Chevy Volt.)
A major point of interest will be how auto manufacturers continue to make their cars smarter by allowing them to take advantage of drivers with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones to surf the Web. We're already seeing cars that use smartphones for GPS navigation, stream Internet radio, and even give seamless access for purchasing movie tickets or making dinner reservations.
Technology will continue to be a big driver for drivers. There is also the issue of pent-up demand. Consumers have been reluctant to buy new cars in this iffy economy, but that should result in a major uptick in sales once things improve. Car makers will be jockeying for position to make sure that they are the ones rolling out the hot cars when the buyers storm the showrooms again.
3. If you build it, they may or may not come: It's been a rough few years for homebuilders, but pricing stability and low mortgage rates are helping bring out potential buyers again.
Lennar (LEN) reports its latest quarterly results Wednesday. Analysts see a profit of $0.17 a share out of the Southeastern developer. Yes, some homebuilders are no longer posting deep deficits. In fact, Lennar has a streak of six consecutive quarterly profits heading into this week's report.
Stability doesn't signal recovery. It remains to be seen when home prices will actually begin rising again after peaking five years ago. However, the shakeout of weaker players along the way has helped the homebuilders that are still around.
4. Big banking gets a big spanking: There isn't a lot of love out there for the major money center banks. Consumers view the "too big to fail" financial behemoths with disdain, laying varying degrees of blame for the financial collapse that rocked the economy a few years ago.
It's a rough crowd, but now JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is the opening act. A week ahead of most of its peers, JPMorgan Chase steps up with its quarterly numbers Friday. As a bellwether with interests in investment banking, traditional banking, and credit card issuing, JPMorgan Chase should provide a great glimpse into the state of the industry.
Analysts figure that JPMorgan Chase earned $0.93 a share in the fourth quarter, 17% below what it earned during 2010's final period.
5. Consumers unite: Tech fans and executives alike converge in Las Vegas this week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show.
The event begins Tuesday, giving gadget makers big and small the opportunity to wow journalists, bloggers, and early adopters at their booths and through scheduled presentations.
Will 2012 be the year of the cheap tablet or pricey ultrabook? What will the next generation of gaming consoles look like? Are we ready to give up on 3-+D TVs? How come all of the booth babes are chatting up the rich nerds?
If you see a flurry of consumer tech news, you'll know that whatever happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas.
Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not owns shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase and Yahoo!. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of eBay and Yahoo!; and writing puts in eBay.