5 Dates to Circle in August: Hacker Convention, Film Sequel

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Let's go over a few days in August that investors may want to keep an eye on as the market tries to bounce back from a down month in July.

Aug. 7-10

DEF CON -- the magnetic yet controversial exposition for hackers -- returns to Las Vegas for four days of festivities. A highlight of DEF CON 22 is a project that open sources NSA's surveillance tools, and given the testy nature of surveillance antics from the National Security Agency, this won't be merely an interesting event for members of the hacker community.

Investors will be paying attention. Whether the stability of popular websites get called into question or publicly traded security software companies get panned or praised, the conference could have ramifications on Wall Street.

Aug. 19

Home Depot (HD) reports later this month. The country's largest home improvement retailer has been a beneficiary of the real estate boom with folks taking advantage of rising house prices to spruce up their digs.

Things have been slowing lately, and we've already seen hardwood flooring discounter Lumber Liquidators (LL) disappoint investors with a weaker than expected quarter. Home Depot may be able to buck the trend. Back in May it boosted its earnings guidance for all of 2014. The more upbeat outlook was partly the handiwork of share buybacks and an asset sale, but it's still good to see a company's guidance move in the right direction.

Aug. 21

The video game industry has been buzzing since the Xbox One and PS4 hit the market just ahead of last year's holiday shopping season. It was just what the market seemed to need after years of declining sales.

The new platforms have results in a spike in hardware sales, but traditional software sales haven't experienced a similar boost. Gamers are relying on digital downloads or using new systems to consume streaming television. That's starting to get better, and we'll find out more later this month when GameStop (GME) reports after the market close on Aug. 21.

Analysts see sales improving for the leading standalone video game retailer, and that's not a surprise. However, the pros also see profitability doubling, and that is a something that has been a bit more of a challenge since hardware is a low-margin business. Are folks buying more packaged games again? GameStop should let us know in a couple of weeks.

Aug. 22

Frank Miller's "Sin City" graphic novels became fertile Hollywood soil in 2005, raking in nearly $75 million in domestic ticket sales to become a sleeper hit. Now it's time for a sequel. "Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill" hits theaters nationwide this month.

Turning graphic novels into movies has turned into a big business since 2005. The sequel should fare well as a late-summer sensation.

Aug. 26

Things haven't gone well for consumer electronics retailers. We already saw smaller rival hhgregg (HGG) take a big hit last week after posting disappointing quarterly results. By the end of August we will have Best Buy (BBY) chiming in with its own report.

Analysts see Best Buy holding up better than hhgregg. They are calling for flat earnings growth on a mere 3 percent decline in sales. That may not sound very exciting, but it would be a relative victory.

Best Buy's CEO made waves a few days ago by pointing out that tablet sales have been crashing. This isn't necessarily bad news for the superstore operator. It is well positioned to cash in on the laptop sales that are starting to show signs of life. Best Buy should have some more insight to share on this potentially seismic shift in gadgetry during its conference call.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot and Lumber Liquidators. The Motley Fool owns shares of GameStop and Lumber Liquidators. Try any Motley Fool newsletter service free for 30 days.

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