Coming Week: Keep on Truckin'

Earnings stay in focus as traders look to continue what has largely been a positive earnings season.
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Corporate earnings will once again be front and center in the coming week. But the April jobs number should steal traders' attention for at least a little while on Friday.

Most of the big names already have reported their results for the recently ended quarter, and so far the reports have been strong. According to John Butters, analyst at Thomson First Call, 69% of the 334 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings to date have beaten analyst estimates, 17% have matched and 14% have missed.

"Aside from a few blips like

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

, earnings season has been a success so far and is expected to continue," says Randy Diamond, sales trader at Miller Tabak.

Another big earnings week starts Monday with reports from the likes of

Chesapeake Energy

(CHK) - Get Report

,

Humana

(HUM) - Get Report

and

Tyson Foods

(TSN) - Get Report

.

Tuesday's lineup includes

Archer-Daniels Midland

(ADM) - Get Report

,

Sirius Satellite Radio

(SIRI) - Get Report

and

TXU

(TXU)

.

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

will be one of the big names in the spotlight Tuesday. Wall Street analysts are expecting the company to post earnings of 59 cents a share for the first quarter on $22.81 billion in revenue, according to Thomson First Call. Last year, the telecom behemoth earned 63 cents a share in the first quarter.

On Wednesday the market will hear from

Time Warner

(TWX)

,

Consolidated Edison

(ED) - Get Report

,

JDSU

(JDSU)

and

Starbucks

(SBUX) - Get Report

.

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

will also be in the earnings spotlight on Wednesday. Analysts project the consumer-products giant earned 61 cents a share in its fiscal third quarter, up from 59 cents last year, on $17.6 billion in revenue.

Thursday's notable names include

Bookham

(BKHM)

,

Kodak

(EK)

,

Goodyear Tire & Rubber

(GT) - Get Report

and

Activision

(ATVI) - Get Report

.

Also scheduled for Thursday are releases from

McKesson

(MCK) - Get Report

,

Playboy

(PLA)

,

Tyco

(TYC)

and

Univision

(UVN)

.

Friday will be relatively light on the earnings front, but

Medco Health

(MHS)

,

Warner Music Group

(WMG) - Get Report

and

Washington Post

(WPO)

will be in focus.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

In addition to earnings releases, economic data will be abundant in the coming week, culminating in the big jobs report.

"After gross domestic product showed a 4.8% expansion last week, the broad expectation is that the data is going to be indicative of an economy in an expansionary midbusiness cycle growth phase," says Jason Schenker, economist at Wachovia.

On Monday, personal income and spending for March are on tap for release. Economists expect incomes, which are a key inflation indicator, rose 0.4% in the month, up from 0.3% growth in February. Spending is projected to have increased 0.4% after rising 0.1% the prior month.

Paul Mendelsohn, strategist at Windham Financial, credits the

Fed

for maintaining enough liquidity to keep the consumer afloat and the spending numbers up.

"Consumers are out there despite higher gas prices," says Mendelsohn. "That means there is still sufficient money sloshing around to compensate for higher energy prices."

The April Institute for Supply Management Index also is set for release on Monday. The ISM index is expected to drop to 55.1 from 55.2 in March.

On Tuesday, automakers will report their U.S. sales for April. Economists predict total car sales will show a jump to 5.4 million from 5.3 million in March. Truck sales are anticipated to rise to 7.9 million from 7.8 million the previous month.

March factory orders and the April ISM Services index headline Wednesday's economic releases. Factory orders are expected to jump 1.5% after a 0.2% rise the prior month, while the ISM services index is expected to fall to 59.4 from 60.5.

Thursday will see the release of preliminary productivity numbers for the first quarter. Economists predict productivity jumped by 3% in the first three months of 2006 after a drop of 0.5% in the fourth quarter.

The biggest market mover could be Friday's nonfarm payrolls number for April. Analysts are looking for 198,000 jobs to be added, slightly down from the 211,000 created in March. The unemployment rate is projected to remain stuck at 4.7%. Hourly earnings in March are expected to tick up slightly to 0.3% from 0.2%, but the pros predict the average workweek will stay at 33.8 hours.

"Any number between 150,000 and 250,000 won't be perceived as requiring a change in Fed policy," says Wachovia's Schenker. "And there is a very low probability of the number coming in outside that range."