Stocks posted their worst week of the year last week, as both the S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.61%) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) fell by over 2%. The decline left investors in solidly positive territory, though, up 9% so far in 2019.
Fourth-quarter earnings results are continuing to trickle in, and here we'll look at the metrics that could send shares of Stitch Fix (SFIX -10.08%), Adobe (ADBE -1.08%) and Ulta Beauty (ULTA -0.53%) moving over the next few trading days.
Stitch Fix's customer base
Investors aren't exactly sure what to make of Stitch Fix's business valuation heading into its fourth-quarter report on Monday. The personalized apparel specialist's stock plunged following its last earnings announcement but has rebounded sharply in the first few months of 2019.
That rally raises the bar for Monday's report, which management has said should show sales growth of between 22% and 24% as adjusted earnings land at roughly $10 million. Besides comparing actual results to those targets, investors will be looking for continued gains in the e-commerce specialist's client base and, ideally, an improving cost profile. Stitch Fix has ambitious plans to expand both in the U.S. and internationally, but strong growth in its order volume will be the best way to lay the groundwork for those broader gains. Look for founder and CEO Katrina Lake and her team to also update their full-year sales and earnings outlook to incorporate the most recent operating trends.
Software giant Adobe will announce its fiscal first-quarter results after the market closes on Thursday. Shareholders have been pleased with its last few announcements, and they showed their enthusiasm by sending shares dramatically higher last year.
To keep that momentum going into 2019, Adobe will need to continue benefiting from its shift into a software-as-a-service business model. That move has helped lift revenue and operating margins, and management said in early December that it's expecting more gains in these key metrics in 2019. Specifically, Adobe has called for growth of 20% or better in its digital media and digital experience segments while earnings rise to $5.54 per share from $5.20 in 2018. Hitting those targets should mean plenty of cash flow for the business, which management can direct in part toward aggressive stock buybacks.
Ulta Beauty's holiday results
Ulta Beauty is back in Wall Street's good graces now that the spa and beauty products retailer has returned to posting faster sales growth. The 8% comparable-store sales spike it announced last quarter was close to the high end of management's guidance and also marked its first growth acceleration since late 2017.
Investors are hoping to hear more good news like that when Ulta announces holiday-season results on Thursday. After all, in addition to the positive demand momentum, the company said back in December that it had cleared out older inventory to make room for the freshest, most in-demand products for the upcoming peak shopping period. That strategy pinched profits last quarter but might have paved the way for a strong end to the year when it comes to gross and operating profitability. Healthy gains here will be needed if the company hopes to get anywhere near its long-term goal of as many as 1,700 locations across the U.S., up from around 1,200 today.
Editor's note: This article has been corrected to state that Katrina Lake is founder and CEO of Stitch Fix.