That drop cut markets' year-to-date gain in half. But stocks are still up this year following 2017's 20% rally.
Earnings season might determine whether stocks return to that expansion or continue trending lower. There are hundreds of companies set to report fourth-quarter results over the coming days, in fact. Let's look at a few of the most anticipated reports on the way from Disney (NYSE:DIS), Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).
Disney's media business
Disney is slated to kick off its fiscal 2018 after the bell on Tuesday. The entertainment giant turned in an unusually weak performance last year, as sales and profits declined for the first time since 2010. Sure, a key reason for the slump was simply the timing of its hit movie releases. However, The House of Mouse also saw significant pressure on its network advertising and distribution fees as the base of pay-TV subscribers shrank.
CEO Bob Iger and his team noted that the pace of subscriber decline slowed last quarter, and so shareholders are hoping to see a continued stabilization in Disney's cash-cow media business this week. That would buy the company precious time as it puts the final touches on two direct-to-consumer streaming offerings set to launch over the coming months. Meanwhile, look for Disney to show healthy results in its parks and resorts business, along with solid growth from its movie studios that dominated the box office last year.
Tesla's Model 3 production pace
Investors are expecting an unusual combination of soaring revenue and plunging profitability from Tesla's fourth quarter report, due after the market closes on Wednesday. Sales should rise as the electric-car giant delivers over 30% more automobiles and enjoys continued healthy demand for its energy storage systems.
Costs probably spiked, though, because of the expensive ramp-up of production for the Model 3, Tesla's first entry into the mass-market car segment. These struggles could see Tesla booking a non-GAAP loss of as much as $3.70 per share, compared with a $0.69-per-share loss a year ago.
Shareholder focus will remain on CEO Elon Musk's latest comments surrounding the Model 3 production pace. Tesla has had to lower its outlook on this key point twice, and so investors are understandably worried about continued production delays that might drive reduced sales growth and lower profitability. Tesla's current target calls for achieving a weekly production rate of about 2,500 Model 3s by the end of the first quarter, and 5,000 units by the second quarter. Even a small shift in that forecast would have a significant impact on the company's broader 2018 growth expectations.
Activision Blizzard's holiday wins
You can't fault investors for pushing Activision Blizzard shares near new highs in anticipation of this Thursday's earnings release. The video game developer has trounced expectations in each of the last seven quarterly reports, after all. And at this time last year, the stock soared following blockbuster results from the key holiday selling period.
Activision should announce another healthy fourth quarter this week, considering its Call of Duty and Destiny franchises earned the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on console gaming sales charts for the full year, respectively. Profits could be juiced by a further tilt toward digital spending, too, since the company probably generated record downloads for Call of Duty: WWII and Destiny 2.
Investors will be focused on Activision's outlook for the coming year, especially as it relates to the new business lines management has targeted. Executives believe the company's huge gamer base and deep portfolio of content will help it transition into a diversified entertainment giant that earns money from sources such as advertising, consumer product sales, and broadcast licensing for esports competitions. But Activision's core challenge remains cranking out a steady stream of highly engaging gaming content.