Food giant Sysco (NYSE: SYY) and home improvement retailer Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) kick off the new week of earnings reports.

Both companies will provide decent reads on consumer and trends. Sysco's the leading foodservice company, delivering a healthy indicator of eating out behavior. Lowe's will shed some light on the housing industry. We know the real estate market isn't exactly humming along smoothly, but if homeowners are spending money on improvement projects it will be evident in the retailer's report.

The world's largest retailer hits the register on Tuesday, as Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) posts its quarterly results. Wal-Mart is another great proxy for the economy in general. It's true that the chain's penchant for discounts makes it an all-weather performer, but if consumers are loosening their grips on disposable income, you'll see it in Wal-Mart's numbers.

Applied Materials
(Nasdaq: AMAT) checks in on Wednesday. The maker of fabrication equipment for the semiconductor industry is expected to post a profit of $0.25 a share, reversing a small loss a year ago.

There's going to be a lot of attention paid to Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ) quarterly report on Thursday. Forget the numbers, since the company divulged most of them earlier this month. Obviously the real draw to an HP report is a little more color concerning Mark Hurd's exit -- and where the company will turn to next for his replacement.

The trading week doesn't close on an empty stomach, as Hormel (NYSE: HRL) and J.M. Smucker (NYSE: SJM) release their quarterly reports. You don't have to combine the two companies. There's nothing savory about a Spam and grape jelly sandwich. However, analysts see both companies posting slightly higher earnings than they did during the same period a year ago.

Until next week, I remain,
Rick Munarriz