1. Attack of the Handheld Android Gaming Devices: When gamers think of gaming devices they often think of the Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox 360, Nintedno (NTDOY) Wii, or Sony (SNE) PS3 when it comes to consoles and 3DS or PS Vita when it comes to handheld systems. However, a new wave of gaming systems is coming that are based on the Android OS.
Why not? There are already nearly a million Android apps out there, and a lot of them are casual games. The market will get to check out two platforms powered by the open source Android platform this week.
Ouya is a console that aims to provide gamers with a cheaper device than the current proprietary systems on the market. Ouya hits the market on Tuesday priced at just $99, pre-loaded with 150 free-to-play games.
The more ambitious NVIDIA (NVDA) Shield hits retailers on Thursday. The portable system is actually more expensive than the 3DS or PS Vita. NVIDIA just cut the price from $349 to $299 ahead of its launch. With a five-inch screen and an actual console-like controller, Shield is aiming for diehard gamers.
2. Hard Times for Hardcovers. When Borders closed its remaining stores two summers ago, it seemed as if Barnes & Noble (BKS) would benefit. Bookworms would only have one superstore to turn to, and Barnes & Noble was also starting to gain traction with its Nook e-book reader.
Unfortunately for Barnes & Noble, sales of traditional books and magazines continue to drop, and it's losing too much money on the Nook end to turn an overall profit. Analysts see another sharp quarterly deficit on a decline in sales when it reports financial results on Tuesday.
3. Bon Voyage, Investors: Whether it's been an unfortunate streak of bad luck or a more widespread issue of maintenance, Carnival (CCL) cruise ships seem to be on the wrong end of mishaps at sea since early last year. Carnival is trying to regain its sea legs. Even the maligned Carnival Triumph returned to service earlier this month after months of reparations and upgrades.
4. Homebuilder, Sweet Homebuilder: After a couple of years of rallying, real estate developers took a breather last week. Mortgage rates have bumped up their highest levels in more than a year, and that's going to give potential home buyers less money to spend on financing their new properties.
It's against this backdrop that Lennar (LEN) -- one of the country's most successful homebuilders -- will report fresh financials on Tuesday. The quarter itself should be solid in terms of revenue, but investors will want to keep an eye on order cancellation rates and new orders. Those are the first metrics that will start to slip if the housing boom has finally run its course.
5. Seeds of Trouble: Few companies have the ability to draw the ire of protesters the way Monsanto (MON) does. The Occupy Wall Street movement may have won a wide following by attacking the banking/investing industry, but it's rare to see one company come under fire the way that Monsanto does.
Environmentalists and other protestors object to the genetically modified seeds that Monsanto markets to farmers, as well as the potent herbicides, pesticides and the like that it sells in tandem with them. Protestors argue that the chemicals are harmful, and that GMO's carry risks to human health and the environment that we have yet to fully understand. Farmers respond that Monsanto products result in more bountiful harvests.
This isn't a column where you'll find an opinion on which side is right. The point here is that Monsanto reports quarterly results on Wednesday. Analysts predict a slight dip in net income per share on a slight uptick in revenue. That may seem like pretty boring stuff, but it won't be boring if an activist or a skeptical analyst asks Monsanto a question on genetically modified organisms during the conference call.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.