It's your typical coffeeshop scene: Laptop open, search engine fired up, steaming cup of coffee at your side. Three of the companies that might be represented by that scene are reporting quarterly earnings today. When they do, we'll get a pretty good idea of where our economy goes from here.
We'll start with the laptop. Apple (AAPL) has been, as much as it sounds like a cliche, recession-proof. We keep talking about consumers cutting back, but they're apparently saving a little extra for the latest Apple products. New iPhones, iPods, and MacBooks have been selling well, by all accounts. This could be a very nice quarterly report from the folks in Cupertino.
As for the search engine, this could be less rosy, because of the search engine we're talking about. Yahoo! (YHOO) has a new CEO who demands and gets a lot of respect. They have, as of today, a new home page design, but, sadly for Yahoo! shareholders, they still have Google (GOOG) as a competitor, sucking away most of the search business. Look for Yahoo to point tech-watchers towards the future, and look for those analysts to try and find a shred of evidence that Yahoo! is thinking of making a deal, most likely with long-time suiter Microsoft (MSFT).
Finally, your cup of coffee. Once bullet-proof, Starbucks (SBUX) has struggled lately, losing some business to the recession, and some to new competition from the likes of McDonald's (MCD). Look for Starbucks to try and make money in new ways (can I buy you a drink?), to get back on the right track.
There you have it .. three companies, going in different directions, all mainstays of today's consumer. All set to spill the beans.
Scott Budman's guess? Apple scores, but guides gingerly, Yahoo! and Starbucks struggle, and try to find rays of light.