How much will Google earn, how high will Zipcar trade and how sharp will inflation rise? As we suggested yesterday, JPMorgan results were closely watched and beat expectations. But several details are worrying. Here's what we're watching for Thursday…
1. Google Turns the Page: Not just a corny play on words, but a big day in Mountain View Thursday. Internet search behemoth Google is set to report quarterly numbers after the market close. While that's news in itself, the real focus will fall on founder Larry Page's first conference call since the C-suite shakeup which saw him take the helm from now Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Analysts expect earnings per share of $8.10 from Google as it fights increased competition from the likes of Microsoft's Bing.
2. Sharing Zipcar: "Wheels when you want them." That's Zipcar's slogan. Come Thursday, shares when you want them too, as the short-term auto rental company debuts on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ZIP. The Zipcar IPO priced Wednesday evening at $18 a share, $2 above the anticipated range. Despite expectations of a warm reception in first-day trading, questions of the company surround how much growth it can achieve outside its urban roots and whether the industry's low barriers to entry will lead to competition down the road.
3. BP's Year to Forget: Less than a week away from the one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill, BP hosts shareholders at its annual meeting in London. What a year it's been? Shares of the oil and gas company plummeted more than 50% in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Though they've recovered significantly since, recent missteps in Russia aren't helping appease shareholders who have watched $55 billion in market cap evaporate since this time last year. And while CEO Bob Dudley will be the man in the hot seat, one of the most controversial topics on the docket will be the excessive pay packages for departing executives, such as ousted CEO Tony Hayward. All that might explain why they're not letting us and other press anywhere near the event.
4. NFL Labor Battle in Overtime: A federal judge on Monday ordered the NFL and its locked out players to resume their negotiations, this time under the supervision of a mediator she appointed from her own court. The mediation begins Thursday in Minneapolis, with federal Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan to serve as mediator. We're hopeful that this news leads to better things than the other NFL story du jour: Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt getting arrested following a car chase.
5. Inflation Nation: Two days of key economic data on the menu with Thursday's wholesale inflation data proceeding the consumer read on Friday. The consensus estimate sees an 0.8% rise in the PPI, but only a 0.2% hike in the core number… raising the age-old question: how valuable are inflation indicators that remove the inflationary components? According to the Fed: very. So, take that for whatever it's worth.