Stocks posted one of their best weeks in decades as investors started to look past the COVID-19 outbreak toward the eventual restarting of major economies around the world. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) gained more than 10% in just four trading days. The indexes remain down for the year, but losses have been quickly cut in half.
The path of the coronavirus and the timing of the lifting of stay-at-home recommendations will likely drive broader markets for the time being. Meanwhile, a few individual stocks are set to announce highly anticipated earnings reports. Below, we'll look at a few metrics to watch from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY), and Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) this week.
Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 research
Johnson & Johnson stock has outperformed the market since indexes turned lower in early March. That positive trend could be tested when the healthcare giant announces its fiscal first-quarter results on Tuesday afternoon.
Investors will find out this week just how well the conglomerate is dealing with surging demand for many of its consumer healthcare products. Several of its brands have been hard to find at supermarkets and big-box retailers after the COVID-19 pandemic began boosting demand in recent weeks. Executives said in late March that they're working to close this supply gap, even as the pharmaceutical and medical device divisions adjust to new market realities.
Meanwhile, look for Johnson & Johnson to discuss its efforts at advancing a COVID-19 vaccine toward the market as soon as possible. Its most promising candidate is currently expected to go into clinical trials by September before reaching vaccine availability by early next year.
Bed Bath & Beyond's cash plan
Investors haven't found much to celebrate in Bed Bath & Beyond's last few operating updates. The specialty retailing chain was struggling with weak demand before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the industry, and the temporary closure of most of its store base only added to the pessimism on Wall Street.
The chain will announce its latest results on Wednesday, and most investor attention will fall on management's plans to navigate through the financial pressures from having its entire store base closed from March 23 through at least early May.
Its efforts to prioritize cash included drawing down the remaining balance from its revolving credit line, furloughing most employees, and postponing nonessential investments into the business. The moves have left the chain with more than $1.4 billion of cash on the books as of early April, which should be enough to easily cover the expected retailing pause. But investors will still want to hear management's plan to get growth back on track after the COVID-19 threat passes.
Rite Aid's outlook
Rite Aid will announce its earnings results on Thursday in a report that should clear up some major questions for investors. The pharmacy retailing specialist's stock has been volatile in recent months as shareholders weigh weak operating trends against the potential for high consumer demand through the COVID-19 pandemic. Rival Walgreens reported strong sales but poor profit results in early April, and that news has investors feeling cautious heading into Rite Aid's report.
Look for CEO Heyward Donigan to stress the company's efforts to balance worker and customer safety with Rite Aid's essential status as a healthcare retailing point for nearly 2 million Americans. The value stock's movement might depend on the chain's outlook, which included modest sales growth as recently as March 16. That forecast might be withdrawn, though, due to the temporary but significant volatility brought on by aggressive social distancing efforts gripping the country today.