Earnings season is at its peak right now, and with January now behind us, investors are trying to figure out what the rest of 2021 is going to look like. The market lost its momentum toward the end of last month, pushing some major indexes to losses for the year. Now, market participants are trying to figure out where positive momentum will come from again.
Hundreds of companies will report their earnings in February, but only a few really matter. Here, we'll look at the three companies whose February earnings reports you won't want to miss.
First up, Amazon.com (AMZN 2.57%) gets the new month off to a quick start. It's slated to report its earnings on Tuesday, Feb. 2, after the market closes.
Amazon had an amazing 2020, with its stock rising 76%. The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a big accelerator for its core e-commerce business, and that's likely to show up in the fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 figures to be released Tuesday afternoon. Those watching the stock expect 37% revenue growth for the quarter, which would close a year of 35% growth as Amazon could pull in around $380 billion in sales for 2020.
Similarly, profits look poised to rise. Most are expecting just a 10% gain or so in earnings per share, but that would potentially cap a year in which Amazon grew its bottom line by more than 50%.
After such a strong year for the stock, it wouldn't be surprising to see Amazon shares give up ground even if the company provides a strong financial report. But if Amazon can satisfy even investors with high expectations, it would be a positive statement for the stock market as a whole.
2. PayPal Holdings
Electronic payments specialist PayPal Holdings (PYPL 1.87%) follows up with its earnings report right on Amazon's heels. PayPal is expected to release its results on Wednesday, Feb. 3, after the market closes.
PayPal's payment network has gotten increasingly popular during the e-commerce surge in 2020. In the third quarter of 2020, active accounts jumped 22% to 361 million, with payment volume rising at an even steeper 29% pace. That strong performance helped PayPal's stock jump out to a 117% gain last year, and investors expect solid growth to continue in the fourth quarter. All told, PayPal should see full-year 2020 revenue and earnings both jump at least 20% from 2019 levels.
What most people will watch most closely, however, is the impact that cryptocurrency has had on PayPal. The company started offering direct purchases of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies late last year, and the appetite for the new service was bottomless. Now, PayPal shareholders hope that the same crypto trends that helped boost shares of rival Square (SQ 2.73%) will work in their favor. If the answer is yes, it could give an even bigger push higher for PayPal's stock price.
3. Peloton Interactive
Finally, Peloton Interactive (PTON 4.23%) was first up the mountain in 2020, with its stock jumping more than 430%. The interactive fitness equipment specialist will give its fiscal second-quarter results after the market closes on Thursday, Feb. 4.
Investors will be watching a lot of things from Peloton. Order activity has been robust during the pandemic, so much so in fact that the company has had trouble fulfilling those orders. Peloton's bid to acquire Precor should help it boost its production capacity, but just how quickly it can capture pent-up demand remains something shareholders want to look at.
Peloton also needs to demonstrate that it can fend of competitors to its interactive programming service. So far, Peloton has resisted cutting the price of its app, which users can subscribe to even if they don't buy its fitness equipment. Obviously, Peloton doesn't want to make equipment buyers feel like they're being taken advantage of because of the higher subscription prices they pay. Management will have a story to tell to explain its strategy.
Peloton investors have high hopes that it can turn a modest profit and push sales through the $1 billion mark for the quarter. But what they really want to see is a continued steep growth trajectory heading into the coming year. If shareholders get that, the stock could climb further.
Watching stocks rise is always fun, but you also have to watch what's happening to a company's business. Keep your eyes on Peloton, PayPal, and Amazon, and you'll have a better idea of how some of the hottest stocks in the market could keep up their momentum well into 2021.