Dell returns to the earnings calendar as retailers’ holiday returns keep flowing

As the second month of the year comes to an end, there is still a lot to learn about last year’s holiday sales.

Large retailers including Home Depot Inc. HD, -0.33% , Macy’s Inc. M, +3.10%  and Foot Locker Inc. FL, +0.54% will report earnings in the coming week, after Walmart Inc. WMT, +0.05% calmed some nerves about retail sales. Best Buy Co. Inc. BBY, +0.98% will join the two largest U.S.-based personal-computer manufacturers in detailing holiday-quarter sales, including Dell Technologies Inc.’s DELL, +1.29% first earnings report since re-emerging on the public markets.

As we turn to March, the tech sector’s calendar turns to software, thanks to those companies’ odd fiscal years. Workday Inc. WDAY, +1.25% Palo Alto Networks Inc. PANW, +1.73% and Box Inc. BOX, -0.02% are among the first wave.

Here’s what to watch for in the week ahead.

Macy’s arrives Tuesday morning, but the company already delivered a negative preannouncement in January. Now, expect executives to detail efforts to clean up inventory and move past holiday-season woes; Cowen & Co. analyst Oliver Chen says to watch for commentary on the impact of inventory reduction on gross margins moving forward.

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Home Depot arrives along with Macy’s on Tuesday morning, and peer Lowe’s Co. LOW, -0.11% follows a day later. While some analysts expect the year ahead to be a good one for home remodels, there’s fear that weather-related issues and the government shutdown may have hurt results for the most recent period. With Lowe’s, a key theme will be penetration of its Pro service, as Barclays analyst Matthew McClintock noticed more internal advertising for the program during his recent store visits.

TJ Maxx’s parent company TJX, -0.28% reports Wednesday morning, and Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works owner L Brands Inc. LB, +2.77% follows that afternoon while working through a management transition. L Brands should explain the extent to which promotions were used to drive sales for struggling brands in the holiday season, and provide a feared forecast — Telsey Advisory Group analyst Dana Telsey predicts it might be yet another “transitional” year for L Brands.

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Nordstrom Inc.JWN, +1.77% and Gap Inc. GPS, +1.23% post results Thursday afternoon, and Foot Locker is on tap for Friday morning. Nordstrom issued a negative warning, and Foot Locker gave investors an appetizer with its spending plans.

Michael Dell returns to public-company earnings Thursday a much richer man, but his company’s market cap of $40 billion is still less than Dell paid for EMC in 2015. HP Inc. HPQ, +0.88% reports a day earlier, after third-party reports said HP fell out of the top spot world-wide in PC sales last year while Dell gained market share.

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Best Buy also reports Wednesday for more insight into electronics sales — perhaps management will discuss impressions of upgrade trends for Apple Inc.’s AAPL, +1.48% latest iPhone line. Apple Watch’s main rival will show up that afternoon with Fitbit Inc. FIT, +0.90% 

Software stocks have been hot in recent weeks, and a number of them will look to keep their hot streaks alive. Workday shares have jumped more than 45% in the past three months and speculation, including from William Blair’s Justin Furby, suggests Workday recently signed Accenture. That’s the type of deal “that would turn heads” on Thursday’s earnings call, Furby said.

Splunk Inc. SPLK, +1.06% , Autodesk Inc. ADSK, +1.87% and Nutanix Inc. NTNX, +0.58% , which is transitioning to a software-only model, also report Thursday afternoon. Box reports a day earlier.

Security-software stocks already got a bump earlier in the season, and Palo Alto Networks will report Tuesday after announcing yet another acquisition. Palo Alto agreed to buy Demisto, a security orchestration, automation and response (yes, they call it SOAR) company. Guggenheim analyst Imtiaz Koujalgi expects management to explain how the deal will impact Demisto’s current customer relationships. “There is always concern as to the impact on the partnership ecosystem” after an acquisition because SOAR businesses need to work with multiple vendors, he wrote.

Several payments names are on the docket, including Square Inc. SQ, +1.77% on Wednesday and Worldpay Inc. WP, +0.90% on Tuesday. Square has been somewhat tight-lipped about its peer-to-peer Cash service, providing data points only sparingly, while rival PayPal Holdings Inc. PYPL, +0.98% posts quarterly updates about Venmo volume. Any commentary from management — including new Chief Financial Officer Amrita Ahuja — about Cash usage will be of interest as Square continues to invest in the service through programs like Boost, which gives users discounts when they use their Square debit cards at select restaurants.

Adyen NV ADYEN, +0.51% a European fintech company that processes payments for internet giants like Netflix Inc. NFLX, +1.59% , reports on Wednesday.

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