• Earnings Preview for Oct 14

      The bond market will be closed on Monday in observance of Columbus Day. The NYSE and Nasdaq will be open.

      Wednesday could be the big day for the markets. Intel (INTC) will report on Tuesday afternoon, potentially setting a tone for technology stocks. Before the bell rings on Wednesday morning, there will earnings news from J.P. Morgan (JPM) and Coca-Cola (KO), plus producer price inflation and retail sales data. During the trading day, Bernanke will deliver a speech and the Beige Book will be released.

      Earnings season will pick up steam with 132 companies confirmed to report. Included in this group will be Dow components INTC, JPM, KO, Citigroup (C), International Business Machines (IBM), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and United Technologies (UTX).

      The week's key economic data will include:

      * Wednesday: September PPI, September retail sales, October Empire State Index, August business inventories, weekly crude inventories, Federal Reserve Beige Book * Thursday: September CPI, weekly initial jobless claims * Friday: September industrial production and capacity utilization, October Philadelphia Fed survey, September building permits and housing starts, preliminary October University of Michigan consumer confidence

      Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will present his economic outlook to the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday. Vice Chairman Donald Kohn will discuss the economy on Wednesday evening. Kohn will speak to a Georgetown University group.

      Options contracts will expire on Friday, Oct 17.

      Once again, the key driver for the markets will be the level of fear. The international markets should be close to a bottom, but bear markets, just like bull markets, can be irrational.

      Companies That Could Issue Positive Earnings Surprises

      Delta Airlines (DAL) recently reported a 12.8% increase in international traffic for the month of September and said industry-wide capacity reductions are boosting its load factor. Brokerage analysts now expect a profit of 2 cents per share in the third quarter, up from a previously forecast loss. Delta has topped market expectations in 2 out of the last 4 quarters. Delta is scheduled to report earnings on Wednesday, Oct 15, before the start of trading.

      Companies That Could Issue Negative Earnings Surprises

      Illinois Tool Works (ITW) cut its third-quarter guidance on Tuesday, hurt by a slowdown in North American industrial production in September. The company has not been able to raise prices to compensate for higher raw material costs due to the economic downturn. Analysts have accordingly adjusted their quarterly profit forecast to 87 cents per share, down from 94 cents. The most accurate estimate is more bearish at 85 cents. Illinois Tool Works is scheduled to report quarterly results on Thursday, Oct 16, before the start of trading.

      Charles Rotblut is the Vice President of Web Content for Zacks Investment Research and the Senior Market Analyst for Zacks.com. He oversees the editorial staff, manages the market-beating Focus List, Timely Buys and Top 10 portfolios, and plays an instrumental role in the development of new products. For more information, visit http://www.zacks.com