What to Watch This Week: New CEOs, New Cars, New Homes and New Tech


Volkswagen E-Bugster at North American International Auto ShowHere are some of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead.

1. Yahoo's new employee orientation: After a few months of having its CFO serve as interim CEO, Yahoo (YHOO) finally has a new CEO.

Scott Thompson -- hired away as the head of eBay's (EBAY) PayPal -- begins his term as Yahoo!'s CEO Monday.

The market didn't exactly love the move, but it's not Thompson's fault. Speculators figured that Yahoo would be acquired soon or score the mother of all paydays by unloading its Asian assets. Bringing on a new CEO seems to indicate that Yahoo! has its sights set on staying a swinging single.

It won't be easy. Revenue growth has been sluggish at Yahoo in recent years, and Thompson doesn't exactly have a whole lot of experience in generating content-driven traffic or online advertising. However, it's not as if folks were beating down Yahoo!'s door to run the company given the way that its past few CEOs have fared.

Thompson starts with a clean slate, but he'd better work quickly.

2. Revving up for innovation: The North American International Auto Show kicks off this week. Press and industry reviews begin early this week, and the show opens its doors to the public Saturday.

There will be plenty of pressure on the car makers as they introduce new cars, show off new dashboard gadgetry, and see which ones can milk more fuel efficiency out of their vehicles without using batteries or engines that catch on fire. (No offense, Chevy Volt.)

A major point of interest will be how auto manufacturers continue to make their cars smarter by allowing them to take advantage of drivers with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones to surf the Web. We're already seeing cars that use smartphones for GPS navigation, stream Internet radio, and even give seamless access for purchasing movie tickets or making dinner reservations.

Technology will continue to be a big driver for drivers. There is also the issue of pent-up demand. Consumers have been reluctant to buy new cars in this iffy economy, but that should result in a major uptick in sales once things improve. Car makers will be jockeying for position to make sure that they are the ones rolling out the hot cars when the buyers storm the showrooms again.

3. If you build it, they may or may not come: It's been a rough few years for homebuilders, but pricing stability and low mortgage rates are helping bring out potential buyers again.

Lennar (LEN) reports its latest quarterly results Wednesday. Analysts see a profit of $0.17 a share out of the Southeastern developer. Yes, some homebuilders are no longer posting deep deficits. In fact, Lennar has a streak of six consecutive quarterly profits heading into this week's report.

Stability doesn't signal recovery. It remains to be seen when home prices will actually begin rising again after peaking five years ago. However, the shakeout of weaker players along the way has helped the homebuilders that are still around.

4. Big banking gets a big spanking: There isn't a lot of love out there for the major money center banks. Consumers view the "too big to fail" financial behemoths with disdain, laying varying degrees of blame for the financial collapse that rocked the economy a few years ago.

It's a rough crowd, but now JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is the opening act. A week ahead of most of its peers, JPMorgan Chase steps up with its quarterly numbers Friday. As a bellwether with interests in investment banking, traditional banking, and credit card issuing, JPMorgan Chase should provide a great glimpse into the state of the industry.

Analysts figure that JPMorgan Chase earned $0.93 a share in the fourth quarter, 17% below what it earned during 2010's final period.

5. Consumers unite: Tech fans and executives alike converge in Las Vegas this week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

The event begins Tuesday, giving gadget makers big and small the opportunity to wow journalists, bloggers, and early adopters at their booths and through scheduled presentations.

Will 2012 be the year of the cheap tablet or pricey ultrabook? What will the next generation of gaming consoles look like? Are we ready to give up on 3-+D TVs? How come all of the booth babes are chatting up the rich nerds?

If you see a flurry of consumer tech news, you'll know that whatever happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not owns shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase and Yahoo!. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of eBay and Yahoo!; and writing puts in eBay.

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Volt is a plug-in Prius has both that is why it sells more, oh its made better and cheaper; oops!
Technology is coming in droves yet conventional OIL is still needed for awhile. We can do both. Gee where did I see that?
Algae is very promising and has no pollutants made in labs just days. Fuel Cells is another then there's Solar and in future more viable Batteries no engine. But in order to continue prosperously we need OIL, COAL, and Natural Gas. I think the consensus for Nuclear is to wean off and find a way to use the spent fuel and oh by the way get those barrels in our Oceans cleaned up. Who came up with that great idea?

January 11 2012 at 1:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

So Hybrid electric drive doesn't work? Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of Prius owners. They don't give a sh*t what you think, they're busy enjoying 50+ mpg while you all are dragging around in 12mpg bloatmobiles.

And you didn't know that every locomotive out there today is powered by a generator driving electric motors on the wheels.

On top of that the US Navy has new Hybrid ships that have 2 - 3 times the range of their turbo diesel versions. Yep, the US Navy has gone green.

January 10 2012 at 8:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I got a look at the new Ford Fusion,awesome looking car for the price and it has a Hybrid model to add to the Fusion line too. Keep up the good work Ford and you will leave GM in the dust where it should have been left to begin with.

January 09 2012 at 2:27 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to billyjoeobama's comment

Fusion is a nice car, will be my next car this spring. (and I can afford anything).

January 09 2012 at 7:23 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

I don't think the Volt has broke the 10 thousand sales mark yet. Rich grandma grocery getter. Better keep a fire extinguisher handy.

January 09 2012 at 2:23 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to billyjoeobama's comment

The Volt makes sense in places with lots of sunshine. Our house in Hawaii has 18kw solar panels installed on the roof. We get 320+ days of full sunshine a year. Right now the excess electric generated by the panels is sold to the local utility. Plug in the Volt, and it's bye bye to ever needing gas. Gas in Hawaii is a ripoff at $4.50/gallon, so the savings are quite substantial.

January 09 2012 at 7:27 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris1011's comment

So would a golf cart there, too. The rest of us have to climb hills, drive in the rain and snow. I have to get a speed chip for my 20 foot truck because I'm getting work in Upstate NY and PA. The roads go almost straight up. Truck can't go over 25 mph, wasn't designed for that kind of hill. Yeah, now I see why people in WV can't drive cars, only SUV's and Pickups.



January 09 2012 at 10:37 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down

You will soon see more all-electric cars from other manufacturers, the Euro cars and from Japan, so get used to it.

January 09 2012 at 7:28 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris1011's comment

The design doesn't work, Chris. Thought it up twenty years ago and it didn't work then, either. What do you use for defrosters? So basically it's good for riding around Tucson, AZ. Oh, if you don't mind not having a/c either.


January 09 2012 at 10:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down

The chevy volt is a great car you communist, you never have anything good to say about GM cars,

January 09 2012 at 1:49 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ynicvic's comment

Did you buy one? What is your real gas milage on the highway? I travel between Central Florida and Texas. How is your car on long trips?

January 09 2012 at 2:18 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

The Volt will be another Edsel

January 09 2012 at 2:19 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to billyjoeobama's comment

Really? It is a tank that is butt ugly? The Volt will take time for acceptance because of the limited stations on the road. But if our future is ONLY petrochem., then I guess it is a joke. There are some trying to change the dynamic. Of course, there is that bugaboo word: CHANGE.

January 09 2012 at 3:55 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down