Stocks declined slightly last week, as both the S&P 500 (^GSPC 3.06%) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 2.68%) shed less than 1%. The indexes each remain in solidly positive territory in 2019, though, just below all-time highs.
Over the next few days, earnings reports are likely to send a few stocks moving. Below, we'll take a look at the metrics that investors will be watching from Nike (NKE 4.55%), CarMax (KMX 7.19%) and Vail Resorts (MTN 3.94%) as they announce their latest operating trends.
Nike's China business
Nike posts quarterly results on Tuesday, and investors have a few good reasons to follow this announcement. The sports-apparel titan is kicking off a new fiscal year, following banner results in 2019 that included double-digit sales growth and improving profitability. While that constitutes impressive momentum, it's an open question as to whether CEO Mark Parker and his team can extend their rebound streak into a third year. Economic growth appears to be slowing in China, after all, which delivered a full 25% ($1 billion) of Nike's incremental sales growth last year. That means executives are likely to discuss the latest demand trends in that country, which Nike sees as critical to its long-term growth ambitions.
As for the more immediate future, look for potentially significant updates to the retailer's fiscal-year forecasts, which call for just a modest slowdown in sales growth while gross margin inches higher. These figures could change, now that Nike has a good grasp on retailer inventories heading into the peak holiday-season shopping period.
CarMax's customer traffic
After a weak start to the year, used-car giant CarMax is back in investors' good graces heading into its Tuesday earnings report. That's because the company's last earnings update contained hopeful signs for the business, including a sales increase fueled by customer traffic -- 10%, its best expansion pace in over a year.
However, at least a portion of that spike had to do with the timing of federal tax-return checks, so investors will be scrutinizing this week's report for evidence that CarMax is on a more stable rebound path. Another quarter of robust comparable-store sales growth would do the trick.
CEO Bill Nash and his team will also reveal important details on CarMax's expansion strategy, which involves aggressive moves into more media markets. This dealership network is also a key support pillar for management's e-commerce strategy. CarMax has put the entire car-buying experience online in a few test markets, and early results suggest the move could deliver faster growth and rising profitability. Investors will learn on Tuesday whether that optimistic scenario is playing out.
Vail Resorts' season-pass update
Vail Resorts' fiscal fourth quarter is a seasonally weak one, since most of its North American ski resorts operate under limited capacity during the summer months. Still, its earnings report on Thursday should attract plenty of investor attention.
The consumer discretionary business will update shareholders on season-pass volume and pricing trends, among other factors. Demand for these packages is critical to the company's projected rate of sales growth, and rising prices are the best evidence that Vail's resort upgrades are paying off.
Vail should also issue a detailed outlook for the new fiscal year that incorporates the latest demand trends and the addition of new properties, like the recently acquired portfolio of Peak Resorts (SKIS). That broader geographic base is helping diversify the business, yet much of its annual earnings haul will still depend on snow conditions during the winter months in North America.