Did you ever think that the top business story of the day would be Jeff Bezos standing up to the alleged blackmailers at the National Enquirer when the tabloid threatened to release embarrassing pictures of him variously clad as he hung out with a woman identified as his girlfriend?
I know it shocked me and made me overlook some of the market's foibles like its third day down in a row. I know it's not supposed to be a business story, but I did find myself pondering how such a fabulous businessman would put himself in such an ill-advised situation by allegedly texting such salacious pictures. Could this lapse in judgment be a sign that one of the most respected people in business may not be as bankable as we thought? Is there any doubt that he would be fired immediately if he didn't control the company? The stock of Amazon (AMZN) is one of my favorites and is owned by my charitable trust which you can follow along by joining the Action Alerts PLUS club. Shareholders must wonder if his judgment is as sound as we thought before these disclosures. Out of respect for this man's business acumen I say stick with him and I am not willing to judge what goes on in peoples' private lives. But I think if you don't enter this incident into the calculus of the stock price you are an ostrich with your head in the sand and that's a suboptimal place for your brain to hang out.
And with that, let's get to next week's game plan. On Monday before the market opens we hear from Restaurant Brands (QSR) . Way too often we talk about McDonald's (MCD) but in many ways the stock of the company that owns Burger King, Tim Horton's and Cramer fave Popeye's represents a better bargain. It's got a 3% yield, it's incredibly well run and has a better growth path than the golden arches. I like the stock.
Here's a treat: Norfolk Southern (NSC) holds an analyst meeting on Monday and the rails have been fabulous places to be. CSX and Union Pacific have adopted a form of train routing called precision railroading and I think Norfolk Southern might have something similar up its sleeve. The stocks of (CSX) and (UNP) went nuts when they unveiled their plans. Could the same thing happen with NSC? I sure think so.
Tuesday morning Under Armour (UAA) reports and while I like the company, Nike's (NKE) got the better story to tell. It's UAA's luck that it competes against a company that may be among the best executors in any business. We are going to get a report from Molson Coors (TAP) and I don't expect much. I think, though, that the cannabis stocks could be in play because I think this company understands that it has to take a bigger plunge besides the tire kicking it's done so far. The cannabis stocks had been scorching hot but they now look like they are rolling over. Be careful out there. After the bell one of the healthier oil companies, Occidental (OXY) , reports. It's got some fabulous Permian holdings and that's where the money is. That said, I like BP (BP) more if you want to own an oil because it has a 5.8% dividend versus the 4.8% of OXY. Believe me, with oil seemingly looking like it is going back to the $40s from the mid-$50s you will need that protection.
I have a club meeting for Action Alerts PLUS on Wednesday and I wanted to talk about adding Twilio (TWLO) to my trust and how I think it represents the best growth story in tech right now. But the cloud platform for so many companies including Airbnb and Lyft among many others, reports Tuesday and it is running up into the print, as they say, gaining almost four points today alone, just a few points from its high. I want it lower but I bet the quarter's a legit blowout like the last one. Many are worried about the video game segment today after Electronic Arts (EA) reported a disappointing quarter and Take-Two (TTWO) gave you a forecast that wasn't insanely positive which is what people have come to expect from the company. But then today we learned that EA's new Apex Legends Battle Royale game has 10 million users virtually over night and the stock screamed higher. What a roller coaster. I wonder if Activision Blizzard (ATVI) has something up its sleeve when it reports after the close. The company's stock which traded as high as $84 back in October, is now in the mid-$40s. I think that EA put a floor on the group today and ATVI could be a worthwhile speculation.
I like the gold stocks although gold has been stalled here this week with the dollar getting stronger. The best one of the lot may be Barrick, which is a combination of Barrick Gold (GOLD) and Randgold , and when CEO Mark Bristow reports I bet it's a good one.
After the close Cisco (CSCO) reports and here I worry not about the quarter, I think CEO Chuck Robbins will have a fine one, but the forecast because so many hedge fund managers are in this one and they are a mighty hard bunch to please. If I didn't own it yet I would wait to see what happens, although the trust does own it and I am anxious to put more money to work in the company's stock because of its multi-year growth path.
Thursday morning Coca-Cola (KO) reports and I am expecting still one more strong quarter from James Quincey who is doing a fabulous job since taking over as CEO a little less than two years ago. Only a strong dollar could impede what I think will be mid-single digit worldwide growth.
After the bell two incredibly high profile semiconductor related companies report and these two have been big disappointers of late: Applied Materials (AMAT) and Nvidia (NVDA) . Not that long ago Nvidia pre-announced a bad quarter. I think the stock has been de-risked. You don't slam yourself again after that, you are just more muted. But Nvidia has big exposure to China and I am concerned that it will be all caught up in the tariff talk of the moment.
Same goes for Applied Materials. We know this semiconductor equipment company has had its share of hardship of later. I don't expect a good quarter, but I do expect a more upbeat forecast than what we have had in the last few quarters.
Finally on Friday, PepsiCo (PEP) reports and here's something I am not used to: Indra Nooyi will not be on the call. I will miss Indra who did such a fabulous job reinventing this company to stay with the times offering good and good for you items as well as great for you profits and dividends. I think the company will put up good numbers but I want to hear how Ramon Laguarta does on the call before I make a judgment.
Deere (DE) reports and I bet we will like the news very much from this great American manufacturer. Demand is very strong for farm equipment right now and that means this company's stock is poised to go higher. How about buying some before. Only the lack of a resolution of trade talks keeps me from being more aggressive.
Can Newell Brands (NWL) put its hard ship behind it? CEO Mike Polk has been trying to both de-lever from all the debt he took down to buy Jarden and Newell's household brands. It's been a very tough road. Given how many moving parts there are and how much is still for sale I think it will be too risky to buy ahead of the quarter. Let's just take a listen.
With this week we are now at the tail end of earnings season. It's been a blast, at least until this past week when we got some iffy news about trade. Sadly it's going to be the same next week - good trade vibes, oil turns higher, stocks turn higher. Bad trade vibes? Well, after this week, you know the drill.