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February may be the shortest month of the year, but that doesn't make it any less action-packed.
Eye the calendar and you will find some meaty corporate events that may very well shape the market. Here are a few of the days that I plan to approach with eyes wide open.
Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT ) reports its quarterly results tomorrow.
I'm not overly concerned about the numbers. Level 3 hasn't posted a quarterly profit in years.
My interest in Level 3's report stems largely from its decision to publicly challenge its peering agreement with Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) after landing a juicy content-delivery network contract with Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) .
In a nutshell, Level 3 has become the Franz Ferdinand of net neutrality. Comcast's demand for peering agreement payments as its clients consume a growing number of Netflix streams on Level 3's servers wasn't initially a matter of net neutrality, but it became one when Level 3 began planting images of broadband tollbooths with the potential to disrupt online experiences.
Another deficit-soaked quarter out of Level 3? No problem. I'm just here for the net neutrality fireworks.
It's time to get your Palm read.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) personal systems chief Todd Bradley was on CNBC last month, pointing to this day for a series of webOS-themed announcements. Are we finally getting webOS tablets or netbooks? Is it too late?
HP has been somewhat rudderless since last summer's Mark Hurd fiasco. Some have questioned his replacement, and January treated investors to a dramatic board shakeup. The tech giant needs to come up strong here. It spent a 10-figure sum to acquire Palm last year, mostly for the potential of its operating system. It was cutting-edge at the time, but has it become obsolete in today's Android world?
Let the iPhone war officially begin!
Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) begins selling its own wireless network's version of the iPhone next week. This will be a challenge for AT&T (NYSE: T ) . Ma Bell was able to deflect accusations of sloppy connections and inadequate coverage maps when it had iPhone exclusivity, but it's a whole new world now that the country's two largest carriers are battling to outfit you with your next iPhone.
This is a battle that won't play itself out overnight. Most of today's iPhone owners are still shackled to two-year contracts with AT&T that carry stiff termination charges. Many of Verizon's own customers are also contractually bound to their existing handsets.
However, the dual platforms will keep each carrier competitive and sensitive to customer needs.
The recession has lifted, but does that mean an end to the cord-cutting?
Cable providers have been shaking off subscribers over the past year. The convergence of video streaming and home theaters coupled with the outrageous monthly ransoms by companies for channels you're not even watching make this an inevitable trend.
Comcast closed out its third quarter with 22.9 million video customers, 822,000 fewer couch potatoes than were watching a year ago. This comes at the same time that Netflix wrapped up 2010 by topping 20 million subscribers.
Comcast has been able to grow its broadband access and digital telephone businesses, but the real question when the country's leading cable provider reports come Feb. 16 is if its video customers are still shrinking.
Sam Walton's retail empire reports on Feb. 22.
The world's largest retailer has a problem. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) was a darling during the recession, as cash-strapped shoppers gravitated to its markdowns. Most retailers are better off now than they were a year ago, but the same can't be said for the discounter.
Wal-Mart's comps have slipped 1.5% at its namesake domestic stores through the first three quarters of 2010. Overseas expansion and sharp cost controls have kept revenue and profits inching higher, but Wal-Mart needs to win back its clients.
What are you looking forward to this month? Check in with your expectations in the comment box below.