What to Watch on Wall Street This Week: Tablets, Retail and Summer Fun
Monday -- Beneath the Surface: Microsoft's (MSFT) first shot at making its own Windows-fueled tablet last year ended in a massive $900 million inventory charge to write off unpopular, weak-selling Surface RT devices. Now the software giant is giving it a second shot with Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. Both new tablets begin shipping on Monday and will be available in stores on Tuesday.
The Surface Pro 2 will run the more full-featured Windows 8, which should give it a leg up with users who felt that Windows RT compared unfavorably to Android-based and Apple iOS tablets.
If the Surface 2 is a flop, the chances are slim for a Surface 3 next year, at least one running Windows RT. Microsoft is unlikely to give up the Surface Pro line, though, since it serves a necessary market for Windows 8 users.
Tuesday -- Show Us a New iPad: Apple (AAPL) refreshed its iPhones last month. On Tuesday it will be time to unveil this year's new iPads.
Apple is hosting an event in California to show off new products. It's widely assumed that this will be when Apple unveils its fifth generation of the game-changing iPad and an updated iPad mini. There should also be new computers, and there's always the glimmer of hope that Apple will peel back the curtain on another new product category.
As always, when Apple has a media event, everyone will be watching.
Wednesday -- More Flags, More Fun: Seasonal amusement park operators are wrapping up their key summer seasons. Outside of the next few weekends of Halloween-themed haunts, the operating calendar is over for the majority ofSix Flags (SIX) thrill havens that aren't open year-round.
Six Flags reports on its money quarter Wednesday. Did the turnstiles keep clicking? Were guests spending more? Analysts see declining profitability, but on a 5 percent uptick in revenue.
Thursday -- Amazon Stocks Up: The world's largest online retailer will report on Thursday afternoon.
Amazon.com (AMZN) has kept growing over the years, taking advantage of its gargantuan scale and low overhead to deliver goods for less than most physical retailers. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Being the cheapest is easy when you're committed to working on lean margins and you don't have to worry about the dressing up local stores, but you also can't discount Amazon's effectiveness. The seasoned e-tailer's Amazon Prime membership program where it offers delivery of most Amazon-warehoused goods in two days without tacking on shipping charges has made Amazon seemingly undefeatable.
Amazon's naturally gearing up for the holiday season, and it's one where more national chains will be starting to discount earlier than usual to try to win over shoppers who have flocked online.
Friday -- Let's Go to the Mall: We know that Amazon will post healthy growth on Thursday. Analysts see sales soaring 21 percent for the quarter. However, investors that want a clearer snapshot of how the rest of the retailers are doing may want to check out Simon Property Group (SPG).
As one of the country's largest mall owners, Simon offers a great glimpse across the retailing landscape. Are occupancy levels holding up? Are rent payments going up because retailers are selling more?
As a Real Estate Investment Trust, income investors lean on Simon for its reasonable 3 percent yield, but on Friday morning we'll see how its fiscal performance can serve as an indicator of how the upcoming holiday shopping season will play out.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com and Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple and Microsoft.