5 Dates for Savvy Investors to Circle in October

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Well, we made it to the fourth quarter of the year. It's been a somewhat rewarding year so far. The S&P 500 (^GPSC) may be up a little less than 7 percent through the end of September, but it has managed to close higher in each of the first three quarters.

October will be busy with earnings season. Let's check out some of the potentially market-shaping events that will take place in the coming weeks.

Oct. 7

There aren't a lot of companies out there running three successful restaurant concepts, but Yum! Brands (YUM) -- hokey corporate name aside -- is the company behind Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut.

Yum! Brands reports next Tuesday. A major component of Yum!'s report will be how it's holding up in China. KFC has been huge in the world's most populous nation, but supplier concerns have scared away customers at many of China's more popular fast-food chains.

Oct. 14

%VIRTUAL-WSSCourseInline-840%OK Go puts out a new CD in two weeks. "Hungry Ghosts" will be the California-based quartet's first studio album in four years. OK Go may not light up the sales and airplay charts; it has only cracked Billboard's Hot 100 list of singles just once in its career. However, OK Go has become the undisputed leader of making creative videos that catch viral fire on Google's (GOOG) (GOOGL) YouTube.

Ever since OK Go's iconic treadmill video, the band and its video directors have been trying to raise the bar. It has certainly worked out well for YouTube. OK Go has five music videos that have topped 10 million views apiece. We'll see what kind of eye candy the new album provides, and what that does to pick up Google's video advertising business.

Oct. 15

It's time for Netflix (NFLX) to show the world what it's got. The leading premium streaming service reports its third-quarter financials in two weeks. It should be a strong quarter. Wall Street's holding out for a 27 percent spike in revenue over the past year, with profitability climbing even faster.

Netflix closed out its second quarter by topping 50 million global streaming accounts, and at the time it was targeting nearly 54 million members by the end of September. A rate hike for new members in May doesn't appear to be slowing subscribers, but we'll know for sure after the market close on Oct. 15.

Oct. 20

Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 6 was a hit last month, and in less than three weeks we'll find out how it translates into the consumer tech giant's financial performance. Apple will report its fiscal fourth-quarter results after the market close on Oct. 20.

Analysts aren't holding out for much in terms of growth. They see revenue and earnings per share climbing 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively, over the prior year. As strong as the iPhone has been, Apple's been held back by slipping iPad and iPod sales.

Oct. 28

The new NBA season kicks off on Oct. 28. With the baseball season winding down -- the first wave of basketball games coincides with the sixth game of the World Series if necessary -- and advertisers threatening to bow out of NFL sponsorships in these scandalous times, the NBA is as important as ever. It also only helps that the narrative this season will be juicy, given LeBron James returning to Cleveland. Investors can count on everything from media companies to sports bars to video game developers benefiting from a magnetic NBA season.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple, Google (A and C shares), and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on the Apple Watch to learn where the real money is to be made for early investors.