Wal-Mart

Lately a wallflower,

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

was the Street's belle of the ball again on Thursday, Oct. 11, when it boosted its

earnings estimate to lead the

Dow

in a morning

rally. The shine was off the apple by afternoon when a collapse in

tech stock prices beat back the advance and sent the Dow into negative territory. Wal-Mart, however, retained the gain.

Ford and GM

UAW capitulation in contract negotiations with Chrysler sent

Ford

(F) - Get Report

and

GM

(GM) - Get Report

up last week -- it's a direction those stocks have become remarkably unfamiliar with in recent months. Details on the U.S. auto sector's story of woe can be found in the

Sept. 24-28th Week in Review.

Credit Markets

Subprime's sub-zero chill on the

credit markets seemed to be thawing, with many

analysts believing the beginning of the end of the crisis is upon us. Others think this may be merely the end of the beginning and point to stories such as the

lead in Thursday, Oct. 11th's

Wall Street Journal

. The article makes the case that the subprime mortgage fiasco is much broader and deeper than previously imagined. But market participants put thoughts of economic Armageddon aside to focus on their favorite pastime -- pouncing on company

earnings.

Earnings Season

Earnings

season brings not flowers, young love or turning leaves to lower Manhattan -- although these seasonal events most certainly occur. Rather, earnings season delivers throngs of traders listening carefully on

conference calls to decide which companies offer the best earnings. This is followed by a frenzy of buying and selling. They're a lot like children on Halloween. Just as costumed kiddies flock to the house with the most candy thanking their benefactors profusely for their sweets, so do Wall Street traders shower companies with adoration in the form of higher stock prices for reporting a positive earnings story. Like the house with no treats, companies with negative earnings stories get their trees toilet-papered and their mail boxes kicked over. Such is life in the jungle.

Your students may own some of the companies that are reporting earnings the week of Oct. 15, including:

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

,

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

,

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

,

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

and

Harley Davidson

(HOG) - Get Report

. A more complete schedule of earnings releases can be found

here.

Many companies make earnings-report conference-call phone numbers available. Many also broadcast earnings reports live on the Web. The dial-in numbers or live audio-cast links can usually be found either posted on the company's "Investor Relations" Web page or in a press release, such as

this one from Coca-Cola, which was a link in both the "Investor Relations" and "Media/Press Center" areas of Coke's corporate Web site. More on earnings conference calls can be found

here, and more general articles on earnings are available

here,

here and

here.

Last but most certainly not least, the easy-to-use SMG core lesson plan

Dividends and Earnings

can be accessed by logging into the

Teacher Support Center. That's all until next week, folks.

This article was written by a staff member of The Stock Market Game.