No Rest For The Weary Next Week

| About: Baidu, Inc. (BIDU)

Coming out of the weekend, investors and traders will not have much of a chance to "ease into the week." Mondays are normally light on key earnings reports, but that doesn't hold true this time around. The week of July 23 will kick off with several key earnings reports on Monday.

Among them will be the world's largest fast-food operator, China's leading internet search company, a technology bellwether, and a prominent steel producer. Here is a closer look at some of these important earnings reports scheduled to be released on Monday, July 23.

Golden Arches Losing Some Glimmer

In 2011, McDonalds (NYSE:MCD) was one of the hottest stocks in the market, gaining 31% on the year, as the company consistently topped analysts quarterly expectations. Solid comparable store sales growth, fueled mainly by new breakfast menu items, and strong growth in China boosted MCD's financials. Looking back to 2Q11, its global comparable sales were up 5.6% and its overall sales increased by 16%.

However, the slowing global economy - particularly in Europe and China - has been taking its toll on MCD, and this is reflected in its recent stock action. Shares are down about 9% year-to-date, but are still trading well above its long-term support of $83.92, according to our real-time trading reports.

Heading into its Q2 reports, expectations have indeed been coming down. The Street is currently forecasting EPS of $1.38, down from the $1.42 estimate from a couple months ago. Revenue is projected to come in at $6.95 billion, equating to year/year growth of just 1%. The slowdown in key Asian markets, such as Japan and China, and tough annual comparisons in that region is stunting MCD's growth. In May, for instance, MCD's comparable sales in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa region decreased by 1.7%.

Searching For a Beat

Shares of Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), China's leading internet search platform, have been getting crushed heading into its Q2 report, down roughly 30% since mid-April. The slide does have the stock trading near its long-term support level of $99.87, as our real-time trading reports indicate. There are a couple primary drivers for this weakness.

First, from a company-specific standpoint, BIDU is going through a transition towards mobile. While imperative that the company makes these investments in mobile, there will be some speed-bumps along the way. Namely, this will be a drag on earnings in the near-term. The other main issue dogging the stock is that sentiment in general for Chinese stocks is bearish due to the slowing economy there.

But, BIDU's growth is still expected to be pretty impressive this quarter. Should BIDU report an inline quarter ($1.11/$861.8 million), its EPS and revenue will have grown by 54% and 63%, respectively. This is a step-down from its 80-90% top-line growth of the past few quarters, but is still quite impressive.

Chips Are On The Table

The technology sector, and the semiconductor space in particular, has been hit especially hard in recent weeks. Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) has not been an exception. Its slide has taken it to within shouting distance of its long-term support level of $25.29. Not even a narrowing of its Q2 EPS and revenue guidance, within analysts' estimates, has been able to stem the selling pressure.

Specifically, the analog and embedded processor developer guided for Q2 EPS of $0.38-$0.42 compared to its prior guidance of $0.36-$0.44, with revenue of $3.28-$3.42 billion versus its $3.22-$3.48 billion prior expectation. This guidance should take much of the mystery out of its Q2 results, but market participants will undoubtedly be honing in on its guidance.

Since its June 12 mid-quarter update, the macro environment certainly hasn't improved, causing a few other semiconductors to issue cautious guidance. TXN did state that Q3 sales should grow sequentially and that orders were trending higher. However, its wireless business continues to be a drag and there are concerns that the company has overbuilt inventory levels heading into 2H12.

Metals Have Been Heavy

One would be hard-pressed to find a harder hit sector than the steel sector. In recent weeks, several leaders in the space have issued warnings in regards to Q2. One such company was Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ:STLD), which guided for Q2 EPS of $0.15-$0.20 versus the prior consensus of $0.26. Revenue is expected to come in at $2.0 billion.

While demand hasn't fallen off a cliff, due to strength in the auto and energy sectors, pricing for sheet metal has eroded due to supply-side pressures. When the company expects the capacity problems to clear up will be key for the stock. Should the company provide cautionary commentary, STLD could slide back towards its long-term support level, which stands at $9.05 according to our real time trading reports.

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Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.