What to Watch on Wall Street This Week: Used Cars and Office Furniture

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Duff Capital Advisors LP Offices
Bloomberg via Getty ImagesSteelcase, a leading maker of office furniture, reports this week; its earnings are a bellwether of how corporate America is faring.
You can never know in advance all the news that will move the market in a given week, but some things you can see coming. From a pair of leading office furniture companies reporting on the same day to a popular used-car seller showing off its showroom, here are some of the things that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.

Monday -- New Energy for the New Week: The new trading week kicks off with FuelCell Energy (FCEL) reporting. The builder of fuel cell power plants reports its latest quarterly results after the market closes on Monday.

It's been 10 years since FuelCell completed its first commercial fuel cell plant installation. Business is starting to pick up, as it has as many orders over the past two years combined as it did during the eight previous years combined. Revenue should continue to grow as FuelCell grows closer to profitability.

Tuesday -- Lone Wolf: Disney's (DIS) "The Lone Ranger" was a flop earlier this year. It failed to break $90 million in domestic box office receipts, and the $260 million it amassed in gross ticket sales worldwide wasn't enough to offset its massive production budget and cinematic distribution.

Disney had fared well with Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski before. The two teamed up for the blockbuster success of Disney's "The Pirates of the Caribbean" movie series. It convinced a jaded audience to return to the local multiplex for a movie about swashbucklers. But it couldn't revive the Western genre this time around. Despite being a box office bomb, "The Lone Ranger" will get a chance at new life in the home market. It comes out on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday.

Wednesday -- Office Space: When it comes to stocks, it's safe to say that Steelcase (SCS) and Herman Miller (MLHR) aren't exactly the busy bees of the exchanges. On a typical day you will see roughly 250,000 to 400,000 shares traded. However, when both companies step up to report quarterly results on Tuesday, you can bet that a lot more than just their investors will be tuning in.

As leading makers of office furniture -- Herman Miller is actually credited with inventing the cubicle, for better or worse -- checking out how the two companies are doing is a smart way for investors to take the pulse of corporate America.

Spoiler alert: Wall Street sees both companies posting improving sales and earnings on Tuesday.

Thursday -- Olive Garden and Red Lobster Have a Lot to Prove: Darden Restaurants (DRI) has been struggling as the hungry avoid its flagship casual-dining concepts. Olive Garden and Red Lobster experienced a dip in comparable-restaurant sales in Darden's most recent quarter, and now it's up again. Darden reports on Wednesday.

Darden's tried to offset the sting with its meaty dividend and expanding its smaller concepts, but until it fixes the fading popularity of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, it's going to be hard for investors to get excited about the restaurateur.

Friday -- I Want to Sell You a Used Car: Being called a used-car salesman used to be an insult along the lines of selling snake oil, but CarMax (KMX) has cleaned things up. CarMax has been growing its huge showrooms selling spruced-up secondhand cars in a clean and haggle-free environment.

CarMax will also buy your car, even if you're not there to buy another one. CarMax reports on Friday, and investors aren't likely to suffer sticker shock. Analysts see healthy double-digit percentage growth on both ends of the income statement for the quarter. Both new and used car sales in this country have been strong lately, and that's good news for investors revving up in CarMax stock.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends CarMax and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of CarMax, Darden Restaurants, and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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