A shortened trading week doesn't mean a shortened number of important earnings reports and data.
The week ahead will bring some key economic numbers. And following the disappointing December Retail Sales report last week, these reports are bound to be closely scrutinized as the investment community looks to home in on the speed of the domestic economy.
In addition to weekly mortgage applications, and oil and natural gas inventory data, we'll also get the December Durable Orders report and January Housing Starts, Building Permits and Existing Home sales data. Given the drop-off in mortgage applications of late as well as weather issues, it's hard to imagine a dramatic pick-up in the housing data since the end of 2018. Rounding out the economic data will be our first February look at the economy with the Philly Fed Index.
Speaking of the Fed, this week also sees the release of the Fed's FOMC minutes from its January meeting. Considering the comments emanating from Fed heads lately as well as the lack of inflation in the January CPI and PPI data, there should be few surprises in terms of potential interest rate hikes in the near term. The looming question is the speed at which the Fed will normalize its balance sheet, which likely means that will be an area of focus as investors parse those minutes.
On the earnings front, there will be a slight downtick in the number of companies reporting quarterly results -- to around 480, compared to just under 500 the previous week. Trifecta Stocks has Universal Display (OLED) on deck.
Outside of OLED, here are some other important reports we will be watching and the questions we will be asking:
-- When Walmart (WMT) reports we'll be assessing its outlook for the domestic economy and also its progress on transforming its business from a bricks-and-mortar focused, to one that is far more nimble and able to compete with Amazon (AMZN) .
-- With consumer debt levels rising and auto loan delinquencies at record levels LendingClub (LC) should benefit from more consumers looking to shore up their financial houses, but what, if any, warning signs does it see ahead? (LC is a holding in TheStreet's Stocks Under $10 portfolio.)
-- More devices being stared at by users and an aging population are a positive setup for Bausch Health Companies (BHC) , but is competition from generics and online pressuring pricing and margins?
-- CVS Health (CVS) has been rolling out more services at its locations to drive consumer traffic and fend off online sales, especially at its front-of-store business. Is the company seeing traction with these efforts or are they just adding to its cost pressures?
-- With Apple (AAPL) , Alphabet/Google (GOOGL) and others attacking the in-car infotainment space, Garmin (GRMN) has had to reinvent itself and has been beating expectations along the way. Of keen interest will be its outlook for the wearables market, and what it may mean for Fitbit FIT and Apple's Watch.
-- The December quarter was one of the better ones of late for restaurant traffic and sales, but will the minimum wage increases and other margin pressures take some of the wind out of results from Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) , Jack in the Box (JACK) , Domino's Pizza (DPZ) , and Wendy's (WEN) . Also, aside from mobile ordering, how are other technology-related investments, like with delivery services DoorDash and others, panning out?
-- The December Retail Sales report showed stronger-than-expected auto sales for the month, but with auto loan delinquencies hitting record levels, what is AutoNation (AN) seeing between new and used car sales? What about the creditworthiness of its recent buyers vs. historical standards?
-- Dropbox (DBX) has been quietly expanding its offering but is it continuing to win users, especially business and enterprise customers, as Apple and Google focus on that customer base with their cloud solutions?
-- With FBI NICS firearm background checks essentially flat year over year in the December quarter, how aggressive in pricing did Sturm Ruger (RGR) get in order to maintain its market share?
This commentary is an excerpt from the Trifecta Stocks Roundup, a weekly feature sent to subscribers of Trifecta Stocks. Click here to learn more about this portfolio, trading ideas and market commentary product.
-- Bob Lang and Chris Versace are co-portfolio managers of Trifecta Stocks.