5 Stocks to Watch This Week: Apple, Ford, Zynga, Amazon and Nintendo

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Nobody can predict all the news that will break and move the markets in a given week, but here are a few things we do know: A U.S. automaker is cruising toward what should be another solid quarterly report, a struggling Japanese gaming giant will tell us just how badly it's losing, and the world's biggest e-tailer will probably make the markets smile despite thin margins. Let's go over those, and a few more of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.

1. Taking a bite out of the Apple: There will be plenty to prove as Apple (AAPL) reports financial results for its fiscal second quarter on Tuesday.

Analysts see profitability declining for the first time in a decade, and it's unanimous. All of the more than four dozen Wall Street pros modeling the consumer tech giant's business see earnings taking a dip this time around.

These same analysts see modest top-line improvement. Apple continues to sell smartphones and tablets. The rub these days is that too many of those iPhones and iPads are the older versions that Apple sells at lower markups to appeal to thrifty shoppers.

2. Ford tough: It's finally a good time to be an automaker.

The industry where two of the biggest three domestic players needed a government bailout a few years ago is revving again. Consumers are buying cars at the headiest clip since 2007.

Pent-up demand and the growing appetite for more fuel efficient vehicles have resulted in busy showrooms. Industry tracker Edmunds.com recently raised the number of cars that it sees selling in this country, and Ford (F) is sitting pretty behind the wheel.

The stateside car manufacturer that didn't partake in the government bailout reports on Wednesday, and momentum is positive. Ford was the big winner in March, reporting sales growth of 5.7 percent. It's been a positive first three months of the year for the company that Henry Ford built. On Wednesday investors will know for sure how the car maker's been driving when it reports fresh financials.

3. StockVille is a hard game to play: Shares of Zynga (ZNGA) rallied earlier this month after an overseas partnership resulted in real-money online gambling themed to Zynga's social properties throughout the United Kingdom.

Online gambling with real money isn't legal domestically, but investors are encouraged by the overseas potential.
The news probably won't be as encouraging on Wednesday when Zynga reports quarterly results. Bookings have been slipping as its more popular games begin falling out of favor. Analysts see a small deficit for the period, reversing a healthy loss a year earlier.

4. Amazon goes shopping: Online wagering may be illegal, but there's nothing stopping retailers from getting customers to pay up for merchandise through e-commerce.

Amazon.com (AMZN) is the market darling of Internet retailing. When folks throw the "showrooming" term around, they're basically talking about bricks-and-mortar chains losing out on sales to Amazon as shoppers use physical stores to check items out before buying them for less through Amazon.
We'll get a clearer picture on how the leading online retailer is faring when it reports on Thursday. Wall Street's holding out for a 23 percent surge in revenue. Earnings will probably go the other way, but the market's cool with that. Analysts understand that Amazon is taking margin hits in the near terms to build out its audience of Kindle and Kindle Fire users. The payoff will come later, and investors don't have a problem with that.

Apple needs to hire whoever Amazon is using to make thinning margins look cool.

5. Wii the people: It was a disappointingly rough holiday season for Nintendo (NTDOY). The Japanese gaming giant introduced its Wii U console in November, hoping that an early jump on its two rivals would pay off.

It didn't. After soft initial sales, Nintendo hosed down its Wii U sales targets for its fiscal year ending in March.
Nintendo posted its first annual loss last year, and things have only been getting worse. It's likely to be an ugly financial report for Nintendo on Wednesday, but the great thing about video games is that the reset button is never too far away.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Apple, Ford, and Nintendo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple, and Ford. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.

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