Stocks set fresh highs list week on investor optimism about the recovering global economy. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) gained less than 0.5% but are up by over 14% so far in 2017:
To sustain that rally, investors will need to see strong earnings growth in the third-quarter reports that are set to flood the market over the next few weeks. Some of the biggest names announcing operating results this week are Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Winnebago (NYSE:WGO), and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG). Here's what to watch in those reports.
Netflix's subscriber forecast
Investors are expecting great things from Netflix when it posts third-quarter results on Monday afternoon. After all, the streaming video giant's stock just touched $200 per share and is the best performer on the S&P 500 in the past five- and 10-year periods. Shares are trouncing the market so far in 2017, too, following a surprisingly strong second quarter that saw the company add 5.2 million subscribers -- or 2 million more than management had forecast.
CEO Reed Hastings and his executive team said they are hoping to more accurately predict growth this time, which helps explain their aggressive forecast that calls for another acceleration of subscriber gains, with 4.4 million users added to the base compared with 3.57 million in the year-ago period. In addition to that result, investors will be focused on the company's projection for the seasonably strong fourth quarter. They'll also be looking for any update to Netflix's profitability forecast, given the recently announced price increase.
Winnebago's profit margin
Winnebago shares are at all-time highs heading into the report set for Thursday morning. Two big things are going right for the RV manufacturer these days. First, its sales growth is far outpacing the RV industry's. Revenue spiked 75% last quarter as its core vehicle business was boosted by the recently acquired portfolio of towable products under the Grand Design brand. Second, Winnebago is enjoying a solid profitability increase, with gross profit margin expanding to 13.6% of sales over the past nine months, compared with 11.3% a year ago.
Management is aiming to continue winning market share in the towables segment even as innovative product releases help it spark faster growth within the Winnebago RV franchise. It will need these gains to quickly pay down the debt it took on with the Grand Design purchase.
Procter & Gamble's sales volume
Procter & Gamble announces its results at the end of the week, and investors are looking for slow but steady growth from the consumer-products titan. The owner of the Tide, Pampers, and Gillette franchises is expected to post a slight increase in both sales and profits this quarter, according to consensus estimates.
Looking beyond those headlines results, shareholders will be focused on organic growth on Friday. P&G is targeting its second straight year of accelerating gains, with sales rising 2.5% this year, compared with 2% in fiscal 2017 and 1% in 2016. What's more, it will be important to see both pricing and volume gains this quarter. If instead organic sales are driven solely by price increases, it could mean that P&G is struggling to defend its market share against value-based rivals.
In any case, shareholders are likely to see increasing cash returns as the company continues spending aggressively on dividends and stock repurchase spending as part of one of the most generous capital return programs on the market. P&G delivered over $20 billion to investors last year and should allocate just slightly less than that on direct returns in fiscal 2018.