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Airlines, fast food and Apple — 5 things to watch for this week

October 19, 2014, 9:00 PM UTC
Photo courtesy: Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Hello friends, and Fortune readers.

The height of earning season is here, and this week we’ll see reports from big consumer brands such as Apple and McDonald’s. There’s also a host of economic data to look forward to, which will be watched closely for indications about the state of the economy after a roller-coaster ride in the markets last week.

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

1. Airlines report earnings amid rising fears of Ebola.

Jetblue, American Airlines and Southwest will all reveal their quarterly earnings later this week. Investors, as well as travelers, will be listening for any indication of what’s ahead for the flying public after news that the second U.S. Ebola patient traveled by air, potentially exposing hundreds of others to the virulent disease.

Analysts expect all three airlines to be profitable: American Airlines (AAL) earnings-per-share is expected to be $1.66 on $11.1 billion in sales. Jetblue (JBLU) is expected to bring in profits of 27 cents per share on $1.5 billion in sales. Southwest (LUV), one of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies, is expected to report earnings-per-share of 53 cents on $4.8 billion in sales.

2. The tech big dogs report earnings

A who’s who of technology companies will report quarterly earnings across the week. Apple (AAPL) will lead the way on Monday. The results won’t reflect the company’s upsized iPhone 6 models or the super-lightweight iPad Air 2 that debuted on Thursday, but analysts still expect the Cupertino-based company to make a nice profit of $1.30 per share on $39.9 billion in sales.

Yahoo’s (YHOO) earnings follow on Tuesday as analysts see how CEO Marissa Mayer’s turnaround plan is faring. The company is expected to post earnings-per-share of 23 cents on $1.05 billion in sales.

Microsoft and Amazon will end the week’s tech earnings streak. Microsoft (MSFT) is expected to report profits of 48 cents a share on $22 billion in sales, while analysts anticipate that Amazon (AMZN) will lose 74 cents a share while brining in $20.8 billion in sales.

3. McDonald’s vs. fast-casual competitors

As fast-casual dining soars and millennials opt out of fast-food dining, McDonald’s (MCD) has struggled to stay relevant. The dining chain reports its earnings on Tuesday, and analysts expect it to report earnings-per-share of $1.38 on $7.2 billion in sales.

Chipotle (CMG), which has benefited from the fast-casual dining boom, is expected to rake in profits nearly three times higher. Analysts expect the chain to post profits of $3.83 on $1.06 billion in sales when it reports Monday.

4. Is the world drinking Coke?

Coca-Cola reports its quarterly earnings Thursday amid waning global demand for fizzy sodas. The Atlanta-based company’s stock has done well this year, outpacing the overall S&P 500 index, though it has lagged behind arch-rival Pepsi, which has been bolstered by its snack business that accounts for more than 60% of the company’s value.

Coca-Cola (KO) has been trying to boost its drinks-only business by offering high-margin smaller packages and appealing to North American consumers, which were drinking more carbonated sodas in the second quarter. The “Share-a-Coke” campaign may have helped keep volume growth high again in the most recent quarter. Analysts expect Coke to report earnings-per-share of 53 cents on $12.1 billion in sales.

5. How is housing fairing?

A host of economic data comes out next week led by September’s existing home sales. Economists expect sales to be up 1% month-over-month, while new home sales are expected to be down about 6.8% from August when the numbers are released Friday.

Inflation numbers for last month will be reported Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Economists aren’t expecting much upward pressure with a consensus estimate of flat inflation month-over-month. The Federal Reserve has been watching the number closely to see if the number gets closer to its 2% target as it considers when to start raising interest rates, which could be as soon as mid-2015.