5 Things to Watch on Wall Street This Week
Monday -- Press Three to Reach Another Voice Prompt: No one enjoys shouting "customer service" at an automated voice response unit, trying to force the machine at the other end of the telephone to connect them to a live human, but you can thank Nuance Communications (NUAN) for at least making the process more effective. The leader in speech recognition dabbles in a lot of technologies where voice prompts and transcriptions are required or desired.
Nuance also happens to kick off this holiday-shortened trading week with its latest quarterly report. Shareholders may not like what they hear. Analysts see a sharp drop in profitability on flat revenue growth. Investors may be tempted to call their brokers to unload their positions, hoping that a Nuance-powered phone tree doesn't slow them down.
Tuesday -- Diamonds in the Rough: It isn't easy to move fancy jewelry during an iffy economy, and it probably doesn't help that gold prices have retreated considerably over the past year. It's against this backdrop that Tiffany (TIF) And Zale (ZLC) will update their financial conditions with their latest quarterly reports. Tiffany reports in the morning. Zale will step up in the afternoon.
Wall Street's holding out for modest improvement at both jewelers. They see low single-digit percentage growth in sales at the two chains. They see Tiffany's profitability improving nicely with Zale posting a slightly smaller deficit than it did a year earlier. The key here will be any insight that the two high-end retailers can provide on how the holiday season plays out. Between holiday gifts and year-end engagements this is a busy time for the jewelry industry.
Wednesday -- Luck Be a Lady Tonight: Isle of Capri (ISLE) isn't a household name in the casino industry. It's not one of the iconic chains on the infamous Las Vegas strip. However Isle of Capri has been able to grow its Isle and Lady Luck brands to the point where it owns or operates 16 regional casinos in Mississippi, Louisiana, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
There aren't too many companies willing to report quarterly results the day before the Thanksgiving holiday. Traders will be bowing out early, and trading volume should be as light. However, Morningstar has Isle of Capri presenting its latest quarterly results on Wednesday morning. Analysts see a widening quarterly loss on a healthy 12 percent increase in revenue. Those are mixed results, but combining winning and losing is part of the gambling life.
Thursday -- I'll Have That Turkey to go, Please: Thanksgiving has historically been a quiet day for deals, outside of your cousin Orville begging you to arm wrestle him for the final slice of pecan pie.
There will be more than football and turkey to consume this time around, though. Macy's (M) shocked the country a month ago by announcing that it would open on Thanksgiving. Then came the deluge of other department store chains, consumer electronics superstores, and discounters scrambling to keep up. Many of those that already opened on the night of Thanksgiving last year will be opening a couple of hours earlier this time around.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%The practice isn't sitting well with many traditionalists, but there's also something to be said about having Thanksgiving leftovers together as a family on Friday morning because everyone went off to tackle shopping errands the night before. Since Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November, this is actually the latest that Black Friday could possibly be. It's easy to see why retailers are trying to get an early start to what will be a short holiday shopping season.
Friday -- Iced Up: Disney (DIS) has largely struggled with animated theatrical releases outside of Pixar films these days, but it has a good shot to break out of that rut with "Frozen." The richly rendered movie actually opens on Wednesday, but it's usually on a slow post-Thanksgiving Friday that families shuffle off to the multiplex for entertainment.
Disney won't be alone. It will be competing with "Homefront," "Black Nativity," and "Oldboy" as movies opening this holiday weekend. If all else fails, there's always the real Black Friday that will be taking place at nearly every retailer in the country.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Nuance Communications and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nuance Communications and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.