It was a volatile trading week, but stocks ended up little changed last week. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.36%) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.41%) shed roughly 0.5% and are sitting 11% higher so far in 2021.
Several of the market's favorite stocks are reporting results over the next few trading days. That list includes NVIDIA (NVDA 1.95%), Okta (OKTA 0.01%), and Gap (GPS 1.45%), whose announcements we'll preview.
Expectations are high for NVIDIA's Wednesday afternoon report. The chipmaker has seen explosive growth in recent months thanks to spiking demand in core niches such as gaming and data center infrastructure. Surging sales in both areas helped revenue cross $5 billion last quarter, compared with $3.1 billion a year earlier.
Investors are bracing for even bigger gains this week, with sales likely to rise 80% to $5.4 billion. Wall Street is eager to hear how NVIDIA's portfolio fared as enterprises rush to add high-performance computing power to their digital infrastructures.
But the bigger trend to follow is management's growing ambitions in the CPU industry. CEO Jensen Huang is likely to talk up NVIDIA's CPU, aimed at data center servers, this week. Executives will also issue a detailed outlook for the fiscal second quarter that might show hints of supply challenges in the gaming and automotive segments.
Okta's acquisition update
It's no surprise that Okta enjoyed strong growth in 2020 as the stampede toward at-home work lifted demand for its core identity management products. Sales rose by over 40% for a second straight year. But organic growth will only be part of the story around Wednesday's earnings report.
That's because this week's announcement will include management's first estimate of how its recent acquisition of Auth0 will affect sales and earnings in 2021. That $6.5 billion merger will bring a big new customer base under Okta's umbrella and is a key pillar in management's plan to go after a much bigger addressable market. But aggressive buyouts like this often bring surprise costs and integration challenges. And it might take time before the value of the merger is clear for shareholders.
Those factors help explain why Okta's stock has tread water heading into this week's announcement. But the slump implies a relatively low bar for the company to meet as it issues a major update to its fiscal 2021 outlook.
Gap's customer traffic
Wall Street is feeling giddy heading into Gap's first-quarter report on Wednesday. In early March, the apparel giant showed some encouraging hints of a post-pandemic rebound as comparable-store sales held flat for a second straight quarter. Booming demand in the e-commerce niche offset almost all of the pressure from temporary store closures in places like Europe. Executives praised this digital channel, which currently ranks second in the U.S. at over $6 billion in annual apparel sales.
There might be bigger gains to come. Gap announced in mid-May that it is resuming its stock buyback program after having paused it during the first phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. That upgrade suggests the retailer may be enjoying rising demand, firm prices, and increasing store traffic as it enters its fiscal second quarter.