3 Things to Watch in the Stock Market This Week – The Motley Fool

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Stocks dropped last week, as both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^SPX) shed more than 2%. The decline marked a second straight weekly drop following the all-time highs set in early September.

A few popular stocks will announce earnings results over the next few trading days, including Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE), FedEx (NYSE:FDX), and Progressive (NYSE:PGR). Below we’ll take a look at the key trends that might send these shares moving this week.

Image source: Getty Images.

Adobe’s recurring revenue

Like many software-as-a-service companies, Adobe has seen a demand uptick during the pandemic. Sales jumped 14% in the fiscal second quarter that ended in late May. Investors are expecting another double-digit increase when the digital media tool specialist announces Q3 results on Tuesday.

Besides the projected 11% revenue boost, look for key updates on recurring subscription revenue, which recently accounted for over 90% of its total sales base. The major financial trends to watch include operating income, which jumped to over $1 billion last quarter compared with $750 million a year ago.

All eyes will be on the fresh outlook that CEO Shantanu Narayen and his team issue for the fourth quarter. Investors are currently projecting a slight acceleration in growth, quarter to quarter. Any deviation from that forecast might create volatility in the stock, especially considering its market-thumping performance so far in 2020.

FedEx’s delivery volume

FedEx announces its latest results on Tuesday afternoon, and investors are looking for some good news from the package delivery giant. Shares have trounced the market since its last report showed that soaring residential-delivery demand mostly offset the drop in commercial deliveries in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Wall Street has pushed FedEx, and its chief rival, UPS, up in hopes that the new selling environment will lead to a sustainable uptick in both sales and profits for these transportation giants.

Signs of that new normal will show up in delivery volume trends, which may again benefit from the consumer stampede toward e-commerce. But the big question is whether FedEx has room to raise prices heading into what could be an unusually busy holiday shopping season. That’s the surest way the company can raise its operating margins over time — and deliver robust returns to its shareholders well into 2021.

Progressive’s loss ratio

Progressive’s auto-focused insurance business has investors feeling optimistic heading into its monthly earnings release on Thursday. The company benefited from a sharp drop in driving hours and travel time in the early phase of the pandemic, and those shifts helped support reduced payouts and expenses in the spring even as premiums continue to grow.

Thursday morning’s report will cover the month of August, and so investors will be watching closely for any potential reversal of those positive trends as economic activity picked back up in parts of the country. Shareholders would be happy to see another double-digit increase in net premiums following July’s 10% boost.

And while the declining loss adjustments aren’t likely to continue at the pace the company enjoyed in June and July, the hope is that Progressive’s improving earnings profile could make it a dependable dividend payer over time even as it continues targeting robust sales growth.