You can never know in advance all the news that will move the market in a given week, but some things you can see coming. From a new show that can only be streamed online to a deep discounter that's been struggling to meet analysts profit expectations, here are some of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.
1. Doritos-Dusted Tacos are Big Business: How popular are Taco Bell's Doritos-flavored taco shells? Are the "I ate the bones" ads for KFC's new boneless chicken pieces paying off? Can Pizza Hut succeed in its upscale push with its new flatbread pizzas?
We may not get all of the answers to these questions on Wednesday, but at least we'll get a chance to ask them. Yum Brands (YUM) -- the company behind Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut -- reports its latest quarterly results this week.
A major component of Yum's business is its once booming KFC restaurants in China. Things have slowed for Yum in the world's most populous nation, and that's actually enough to leave analysts expecting declines in revenue and earnings when Yum reports on Wednesday.
2. Netflix Wants to Lock You Up: Netflix (NFLX) is debuting yet another original series this week.
"Orange Is the New Black" -- a prison drama from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan -- launches on Thursday. As with all of the first-run shows that Netflix has introduced since last year, every episode of the its debut season will be available on the first day, so there's no need to hang on weekly cliffhangers. Netflix says this enables the increasingly popular trend of "binge viewing," letting fans keep watching subsequent episodes right away.
The early reviews have been positive. "Smart, salty, and outrageous," raves The New Yorker.
We'll see soon enough if it's smart, salty, and outrageous enough to keep Netflix subscribers glued to their accounts.
3. Banking on Earnings: Earnings season doesn't kick into high gear until next week, but investors will get their first taste of how the "too big to fail" bankers fared on Friday morning when Wells Fargo (WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) report their second quarter results.
Analysts foresee earnings improvement at both financial services giants, but the real meat in the Friday morning conference calls will be any insight that Wells Fargo or JPMorgan Chase can provide on the industry's near-term prospects. Mortgage rates have jumped to their highest levels in more than a year, and it remains to be seen if that will cool borrowing activity or if the economy is humming along smoothly enough that it can survive the spike.
4. More Multiplex Movie Magic: It's been a strong year for movie theater operators. Despite this past holiday weekend's poor showing by Walt Disney's (DIS) "The Lone Ranger," it's still been an overall strong showing at the box office for the seasonally potent summer season.
Exhibitors should continue to be busy this week as "Grown Ups 2" and "Pacific Rim" open. The comedy sequel and the ambitious action flick will begin their theatrical runs with screenings on Thursday night.
The good thing for theater owners and investors is that if any particular film falls flat -- sorry, Tonto -- there always seems to be another potential blockbuster or two waiting in the wings.
5. Will Family Dollar Buck the Trend: One would think that this would be a good time for retailers that help shoppers stretch their discretionary income, but it doesn't look that way at Family Dollar (FDO). Wall Street expects to see a slight decline in profitability when the deep discounter reports this week. It gets worse: Family Dollar has missed analyst profit targets in its previous two quarters.
Providing bargains is one thing. Excelling at the art of discounting by also coming out of the process with healthy margins is something else. We'll see if Family Dollar can break out of its rut when it reports its fiscal third quarter results on Thursday.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney and Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Netflix, Walt Disney, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Netflix, Walt Disney, and Wells Fargo. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.
An Iron Throne for Your Golden Years: Our 'Game of Thrones' Stock Picks
What to Watch This Week: Dollar General's Blues, Yum in China and More
Stock: Goldman Sachs (GS)
As the Master of Coin on the Small Council in King's Landing, Petyr is in control of the kingdom's finances. And while the ruling Lannister family has a wealth of gold, the kingdom's expenses are many. So it's no surprise that Petyr would prefer investing in a large investment banking and securities company such as Goldman Sachs. Not only does Goldman Sachs profit from various financial services, but the company seems to always be profitable regardless of what happens in the stock market, housing market, or broader economy.
Stock: Zynga (ZNGA)
Even a child ruling a kingdom needs to blow off steam once in a while. That makes Zynga, a company focused on building social and casual games, the perfect pick for Joffrey Baratheon. Zynga also watched many of its executives leave the company and its stock price plummet, similar to the situation that Joffrey faces in King's Landing as the kingdom unravels. Yet Zynga's stock structure provides its CEO, Mark Pincus, 70 votes per share. That means that as of the end of 2012, Zynga's CEO owned 59 percent of the total voting power. Take that, mere commoner! It's not bad to be the head of Zynga... unless your stock's awful performance costs you a spot on the Forbes billionaire list.
Stock: Yahoo! (YHOO)
The Queen Regent and mother of Joffrey Baratheon, Cersei Lannister would admire a bold female CEO such as Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! Joining Yahoo! less than a year ago, Mayer is determined to turn around the struggling company, and is focused on building Yahoo!'s employees and changing the internal culture. Bold leadership is something that Cersei would identify with, although the two have quite different perspectives on how to get results.
Stock: LinkedIn (LNKD)
Tyrion Lannister is often underestimated by those around him given his size and appearance. But time and again his intellect is what wins the day. Tyrion understands the value of building an intelligence network throughout King's Landing, which is why he would invest in LinkedIn. In the social media realm, LinkedIn is also oftentimes overlooked due to Facebook's much larger user base -- over 1 billion monthly active users, compared to its own roughly 200 million total registered users (not monthly active users). Although Facebook towers over LinkedIn, LinkedIn's revenue per user was 20 times that of Facebook as of this summer.
Stock: Apple (AAPL)
Having lost his father, Eddard Stark, Robb is trying to lead his father's men to the best of his ability. While he lacks experience on the battlefield, his father taught him many lessons in leadership and duty. That's why Apple would catch Robb's interest as an investor. When Tim Cook became CEO of Apple, outsiders wondered whether he was capable of leading the giant tech company. While the company has had its challenges since then (e.g., Apple Maps), its position as one of the most influential tech companies has not been usurped by any of its rivals.
Stock: Caterpillar (CAT)
As a steward of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow must protect the Wall. He knows that winter is coming -- and the Wall might need some fortification. That would make Caterpillar, which focuses on construction and building infrastructure, top on his investing list. Since some of Caterpillar's products are used for snow removal, Jon Snow would also be demonstrating a Peter Lynch mentality of buying what you know.
Stock: Garmin (GRMN)
Living in exile hasn't been easy for Daenerys, as she's never found a true place to call her own. But as she establishes her identity as the Mother of Dragons, she's determined to return to Westeros. As someone seeking direction and a way home, Daenerys would likely buy shares of Garmin for her investing portfolio. The GPS technology company creates navigation products for every mode of transportation, including air and sea. And if she's ever to return to Westeros, one of Garmin's marine products would sure be useful.
Stock: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A; BRK-B)
As a eunuch, Varys demonstrates his power through a (spider)web of contacts that feed him information. He uses information to gain a personal advantage, creating an insurance policy of sorts. Therefore Varys would be a fan of the insurance model and invest in Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway is a large conglomerate holding company, owning stakes in or even whole companies across many different industries. Similarly, beyond his network of information-sharing contacts, Varys seems to have a hand in structuring deals or alliances across the kingdom.