A volatile November ended on such a strong note yesterday, but now it's time to turn our attention to December.
Let's go over a few of the upcoming days to watch.
November treated shoppers and retailer stock investors to strong Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Is it time to make a shopping category for Almost Last Minute?
That's the name of the three-day sale that Target
Target's doing everything it can to make sure that it doesn't wind up where it did last holiday season. The discount department store chain's 0.9% uptick in same-store sales last December didn't keep up with inflation -- and much less many of its rival retailers.
Earnings and same-store sales have fallen in each of the past few quarters. Shoppers are turning to better deals from online retailers on consumer electronics. It also only hurts that all of the shelf space that Best Buy devotes to light media items like CDs, DVDs, video games, and books continues to fade in relevance as digital delivery on all four fronts cuts out the superstore middleman.
Things may not get any better this time around. Analysts see another quarter of declining profitability on flattish sales when Best Buy reports on Dec. 13. This isn't the kind of momentum that one likes to see heading into the telltale holiday shopping season.
Best Buy's plan has been to play small ball. It wants to open more of its smaller Best Buy Mobile stores dedicated solely to wireless products. If sales at the store level continue to diminish, it may not have much of a choice but to settle for bunt singles.
Some bellwethers are more bellwether-ish than others.
The ability to take the pulse of corporate America and hurried e-commerce trends in a single earnings report is too tempting to ignore. Wall Street is targeting revenue and earnings growth of 10% and 30%, respectively, at FedEx in its fiscal second quarter.
I've tried to play "IPO" as a word on Zynga's Word With Friends. It didn't stick. Let's hope that Zynga itself has better luck.
The social gaming giant is kicking off a nine-day road show this week, positioning Zynga to price its Wall Street debut after the market closes on Dec. 15 and begin trading publicly the following day.
The hype on dot-com darlings going public has cooled substantially lately. It doesn't help that Groupon
Zynga's IPO was at one point rumored to value the company at a whopping $20 billion, but Reuters is now reporting that the casual gaming star will hit the market at an ultimate price tag closer to $10 billion.
I called FedEx one of the best economic gauges, but the company that probably is the best -- Paychex
Paychex provides payroll, human resource, and benefits outsourcing solutions for businesses that aren't big enough to make it cost-effective to perform these functions in house. In a nutshell, if corporate America is hiring again and cutting more paychecks, you're going to see it in Paychex's report.
We should be covering all of these events as they happen, so stay close by adding the stocks to My Watchlist.