Wall Street's Week Ahead: Growth at Comcast, Starbucks

Comcast Time Warner
Susan Walsh/APComcast's Washington hearing on its expansion.
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 Chili's checking in with what should be encouraging sales and earnings growth to the country's leading cable TV provider trying to prove that its refreshing increase in video subscribers during the holiday quarter wasn't a fluke, here are some of the things that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.

Monday -- Chips off the Old Block

There aren't too many companies in the sweet spot that Cadence Design Systems (CDNS) finds itself in these days. It's a leading provider of electronic design automation tools, and that basically means that it offers the software and hardware used to design everything from individual transistors to more complicated chip products. As consumer electronics gadgetry gets more complex, Cadence Design Systems gets more and more work.

Analysts see revenue climbing just 6 percent in its latest quarter when it reports on Monday afternoon. That may not seem like much, but compared to slumping tech-related companies, it's moving in the right direction.

Tuesday -- It's Comcastic

Comcast (CMCSA) is the country's largest cable and broadband Internet provider, and earlier this month it sent some people to Washington convince the government that it should be allowed to complete an acquisition of a smaller rival's customers and become even bigger. It reports on Tuesday.

Like many cable TV companies, Comcast has struggled to grow its base of video customers. Networks and cable channels continue to increase their rates, and Comcast has to pass those hikes through to consumers that are tiring of paying more for content they're not watching. Comcast has been able to grow its Xfinity broadband service and its Internet phone services. Its NBC Universal acquisition continues to make sense as a content play. Revenue has also inched higher on the TV end as rates are going up higher than the defection rate finds the subscriber count heading lower.

Comcast caught a break on the video customer front in its most recent quarter with a rare sequential increase. It will be interesting to see if it can keep that going or if it was just a fluke.

Wednesday -- Chili's Con Queso

Casual dining restaurants have been struggling, but Brinker International's (EAT) Chili's has been holding up relatively better. The 1,557-unit chain posted comparable-restaurant sales growth of 0.3 percent in its latest quarter. That may not seem like something to brag about, but Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, Red Lobster and other mainstream eateries have been checking in with negative store-level results lately.

Brinker reports fresh financials on Wednesday. Wall Street pros do see improvement on the top and bottom line. Chili's is one of the first major restaurant chains to begin deploying table-side tablets for guests to place orders and entertain themselves as they wait for their meals. More than 250 Chili's restaurants are using the system, which Brinker expects to roll out chain-wide by the end of the year.

Thursday -- Venting Over a Venti

Starbucks (SBUX) is probably one of the market's biggest beneficiaries of the country's gradual economic recovery. More people working translates into more commuters stopping by the premium coffeehouse operator for a caffeinated fix in the morning.

Starbucks has expanded with acquisitions of juice bars, bakeries and luxury tea retailers, but it's still a company that relies on its signature coffee brews to keep the bean counters happy. The java giant reports on Thursday.

Friday -- Building Tension

Masco (MAS) has been enjoying the housing market's recovery. The maker of home improvement and building products has benefited during the construction boom. Masco manufactures plumbing, decorative architectural, and cabinetry products, and all three categories grew by at least 6 percent last year. Its installation services grew even faster.

The new home construction market is showing signs of cooling off. Mortgage rates have moved higher, and rising home prices find fewer people able to afford brand new digs. We'll see how this all plays out for Masco on Friday morning.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.
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