Stocks dipped for the second straight week last week, yet both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) remain solidly higher so far this year.
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Second-quarter earnings season is winding down, but there are still a few highly anticipated reports scheduled for the week ahead, including from Lowe's (NYSE: LOW), Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), and GameStop (NYSE: GME). Here's what to look for in the reports.
Lowe's sales growth
Home-improvement specialist Lowe's will announce its results before the market opens on Wednesday. The retailer has been trailing rival Home Depot lately in key metrics including sales growth, profitability, and market share. Its comps in the fiscal first quarter, for example, ticked up by just 2%, while Home Depot's jumped 6%.
Lowe's recently took a page out of Home Depot's playbook with a $500 million acquisition aimed at expanding its influence in the maintenance, repair, and operations business. This niche helps serve the professional customer, which has been key to Home Depot's market-beating growth lately, and Lowe's is hoping it will do the same for its business.
Investors will find out whether Lowe's can close the gap with the market leader, which last week announced blazing second-quarter comps of 6%. Home Depot is projecting growth of just above 5% for the full year, and Lowe's most recent forecast called for more modest gains of 3.5%, implying additional market-share losses for the industry's second-biggest retailer.
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Autodesk's subscriber gains
Autodesk shares are soaring this year, even as its sales head lower. That apparent contradiction stems from the fact that the computer-aided design-software specialist is shifting its business model toward subscription services and away from one-time purchases. The change depresses short-term sales results but implies steady, profitable, revenue growth that should power significant earnings ahead.
Back in May, the company revealed solid gains on its shift. It added 233,000 subscribers to help push recurring revenue to 90% of the business. "We're executing well and making significant progress on our business model transition," CEO Andrew Anagnost said in a press release at the time.
Wall Street is expecting a further drop in top-line results this week as Autodesk's sales fall 10%, to $495 million. Subscriber numbers will be the key figures to watch, though. The company's most recent outlook called for paying subscribers to rise by between 600,000 and 650,000 in fiscal 2018. If that aggressive forecast holds, then investors appear ready to accept Autodesk's third straight fiscal year of net losses in exchange for progress toward a more predictable and profitable revenue base.
GameStop's transition plan
Investors aren't expecting much good news from video game specialist GameStop when it posts earnings results on Friday. After all, mall-based retailers are struggling with weakening customer traffic, in general, and GameStop is especially exposed to that trend as its core product moves to digital delivery. In that way, what's good news for video game developers like Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts is bad news for GameStop. The retailer's software sales dropped 8% last quarter. Comparable-store sales plunged by 16% in the prior quarter, too.
GameStop has plenty of valuable assets, though. It maintains a dominant position in physical video game retailing, for one. The company has also succeeded in developing complementary business lines, including consumer tech, cellular services, and collectibles. It remains solidly profitable, having generated $353 million of net income last year to easily cover its hefty dividend payout.
GameStop's rock-bottom valuation reflects deep pessimism on the part of investors that this business will return to solid growth any time soon. Yet it also opens the door for a share-price spike should the retailer outperform Wall Street's low expectations.
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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos owns shares of Activision Blizzard, GameStop, and Home Depot. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Activision Blizzard. The Motley Fool owns shares of GameStop and has the following options: short October 2017 $22 calls on GameStop. The Motley Fool recommends Electronic Arts, Home Depot, and Lowe's. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.