Wall Street This Week: The Magic's a Bit Iffy for Harry Potter

2007 Film Preview
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From a major banking institution kicking off the new earnings season to the most-anticipated theme park debut of the year staging its grand opening, here are some things that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.

Monday -- Food for Thought

The market's going to get off to a slow start on the news front. That's not a surprise given that it was closed Friday for Independence Day. One company that will be in the news on Monday is food and industrial products maker Penford (PENX).

Penford's wide range of products include food ingredients, pet and animal products, sustainable bioproducts, starches for paper and packaging products and biofuels. Analysts see Penford earning 21 cents a share, but keep in mind that it has come up short against Wall Street expectations in each of the three previous quarters.

Tuesday -- Harry Potter

Central Florida will be a bit busier than usual on Tuesday when Comcast's (CMCSK) Universal Orlando has its grand opening of the new Diagon Alley expansion to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

It's been a rough start. July 8 wasn't the opening date that the park originally wanted, judging by the fact that it had "The Tonight Show" and "Today" run weeklong tie-ins a few weeks ago. Conveniently for Comcast, it owns both the Universal theme parks and NBC.

However, with the expansion's indoor coaster proving unreliable -- and even Universal pass holders being denied early access to attractions outside of the new Hogwarts Express train ride -- it could be an interesting debut. The crowds should be huge, the expectations lofty.

Wednesday -- Mopping Up

WD-40 (WDFC) reports on Wednesday afternoon. This is the company behind the multi-use lubricant. It also offers industrial cleaners, toilet sanitizers and other compounds.

WD-40 didn't work out for its shareholders last time out. It posted better than expected 9 percent growth in revenue, but earnings fell just short of expectations. WD-40's guidance for all of 2014 -- calling for earnings of $40.5 million to $42.8 million on $383 million to $398 million in revenue didn't impress the market. Three months later we'll see if it's going to revise those targets higher or lower.

Thursday -- A Dollar Saved

Family Dollar (FDO) reports on Thursday. The market was planning on Family Dollar merging with Dollar General (DG) -- a move that would unite two leaders of deep discount retail -- but that doesn't seem likely after Dollar General's CEO announced his resignation late last month.

This will make Family Dollar's report even more interesting. It probably doesn't help that it has missed Wall Street's income forecasts in back-to-back quarters heading into Thursday's report.

Friday -- Can You Bank on It?

Earnings season doesn't truly kick in until later in July, but banking giants are some of the first companies to report on the quarters ending in June. They're bankers. They have to be quick with the bean counting.

Wells Fargo (WFC) reports on Friday morning, symbolically kicking off the second quarter earnings season that will heat up in the coming weeks. The financial service industry has benefited from the housing boom that's been ignited in part by low loan rates, but the downside to that is that customers aren't in a hurry to open savings and interest-bearing checking accounts in that kind of climate.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wells Fargo.

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Wall Street This Week: The Magic's a Bit Iffy for Harry Potter

Remember what your parents told you to do when you were bored? That's right: Go outside and play. Not only is this an important lesson for kids –- finding ways to have fun using only your imagination –- it's free. It's easy today to get caught in the trap of spending money to entertain our families, whether it's buying an smartphone app, spending money at the mall or the movies or buying new toys. These are fun treats every once in a while, but keep it to a minimum and remind your family of the great outdoors.

Libraries are fighting to stay relevant in today's technology-centric society, so why not help them out while you save money on books and entertainment? Library cards are still free, and your taxes pay for these resources. Borrow books as well as DVDs of movies and television shows and cut back on your digital purchases and on-demand subscriptions.

Before you protest, this is definitely a major lifestyle change if you already use a smartphone regularly, but worth considering if you want to save a lot of money each month. Opting for a phone without Internet access –- or even a pay-as-you-go phone, if you rarely need to use it –- will cut costs; it might offer the added benefit of unplugging from constant connectivity.

Carpooling became popular during a countrywide effort to save gas in the 1970s, and today there are signs of resurgence with technology that allows commuters in the same area to easily find each other. If you don't have the option of public transportation, search in your own community for carpooling groups or talk to your coworkers to figure out a schedule.

Commit to skip the expensive salad bar or lunch spot across the street and pack a bag lunch at least three or four days a week. This can add up to a lot of money saved over time. 

While you don't need to use a pencil and paper to write down every purchase as was done years ago, the routine of tracking everything you buy can be an important habit for more careful spending. If you'd prefer to stay digital with this tactic, use Excel, Google (GOOG) Docs or an online tool that collects your daily transactions and sorts them for you.

This concept is no stranger to those who lived during economically challenging times years ago; if you didn't make enough money, you simply found another job to boost your income. Today, while job availability, familial roles and time commitments differ greatly from back then, you can still look for additional income opportunities. Freelancing is one option for those that need to spend time at home with family; you can also find seasonal opportunities in retail.

Take a tip from earlier generations and make your contributions to savings accounts the same, rather than adding more or less depending on other unexpected expenses. This might mean rethinking the amount you put away each month; even if you lower it, more regularity over time can have a bigger impact.
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