Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Index futures as of 7:55 a.m. EST suggest a lower start for the stock market today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) expected to drop 86 points at the opening bell. Now that most of this quarter's earnings seasons is behind us, attention is turning back to the Federal Reserve and its stimulus policies. Investors should get plenty of hints on the Fed's plans tomorrow, when Janet Yellen heads to Congress for her confirmation hearing as the central bank's new chair.
With that bigger picture in mind, here are a few individual stock stories to watch for in today's market.
Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) this morning announced what it billed as the biggest change to the streaming service's user experience in its history. The new TV browsing screen features more graphics and a higher degree of personalization while promoting social data from its integration with Facebook. Netflix apparently has a lot of confidence in the new design, as it's rolling it out across a host of platforms simultaneously. That hasn't been the case with incremental updates in the past. The stock is down slightly in premarket trading and hovering near its all-time highs.
Potbelly (NASDAQ:PBPB) shares are on the move after the sandwich-slinger last night announced its first quarterly earnings results as a public company. That report didn't disappoint: Revenue grew by 11.7%, and profit jumped more than analysts expected, up 26.7% to $0.15 a share. Potbelly added nine new shops in the quarter, bringing its total store base to 288. While the total market potential is probably many multiples of that base, investors are paying a hefty premium for a company that only managed to grow sales by 2.5% at existing locations last quarter. Potbelly's stock is up 12% in premarket trading.
Finally, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is taking a $4 billion hit. The company agreed to pay that record settlement sum to more than 7,000 patients who have sued over the controversial hip replacements that it began selling in 2005, according to Bloomberg. The deal works out to about $300,000 for each surgical implant and doesn't completely remove JNJ's liability, as future issues tied to the devices could still bring more lawsuits. However, the company is probably relieved to put the bulk of the liability and legal wrangling behind it. Johnson & Johnson stock is unchanged in premarket trading.