HPQ, TGT, PETM Top Wednesday's Hot Stocks to Watch

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Second-quarter earnings continue to roll in with some major industry players reporting Wednesday.

Featured on today's hot-stocks-to-watch list are a struggling IT giant, a beleaguered discount retailer, a leading pet-supply retailer under pressure from an activist investor, and more.

Wednesday's Hot Stocks to Watch

HPQ stockHot Stocks to Watch No. 1: Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) leads today's hot-stocks-to-watch list. The tech giant best known for its computers and printers reports fiscal Q3 numbers after the close. Expectations are for HPQ to post earnings per share (EPS) of $0.88, up from $0.86 in the same quarter a year ago. Whisper numbers are for EPS of $0.92. Revenue is expected to come in at $27.03 billion, shy of the $27.23 billion reported in the year-ago quarter. The Palo Alto, Calif.-headquartered company has struggled amid a waning PC market and growing competition in the cloud market, where it is a key player. Shares got a lift in May after reporting modestly higher Q2 profit along with steep job cuts. Shares have risen almost 10% this quarter and are up nearly 27% year to date.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 2: Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) reports Q2 numbers before Wednesday's open. The beleaguered discount retailer is seen reporting EPS of $0.80, down from $0.97 a year ago. Whisper numbers are gloomier, with EPS expected to come in at $0.78. Target warned earlier this month that Q2 EPS would likely come in around $0.78, sharply lower than the $0.85 to $1.00 it projected in May. According to FactSet, revenue is seen coming in at $17.4 billion, up from $17 billion in the year-ago quarter. Target's reputation and traffic suffered a major blow after its data breech was made public in December 2013. The company is still feeling the effects from the cyberattack, as well as expansion efforts in Canada which have been slow going. Shares are down some 6.3% year to date.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 3: PetSmart Inc. (Nasdaq: PETM) is on tap to post Q2 results before today's open. Analysts have the specialty retailer of pet supplies reporting EPS of $0.93, up from $0.89 in the same quarter a year ago. Whisper numbers are for EPS of $0.96. The company is currently under the microscope thanks to Jana Partners. The N.Y.-based hedge fund, managed by Barry Rosenstein, has amassed 4.9 million shares of PETM and is urging the company to explore a sale. This week, Jana filed a document with the SEC claiming to have received information from an anonymous source that PetSmart has been attempting to hide poor results from investors. The consensus analyst recommendation on PETM is "Hold." Shares are off 5.83% since the start of the year.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 4: Lowe's Co. Inc. (NYSE: LOW) reports Q2 numbers before Wednesday's opening bell. Expectations are for the home improvement retailer to post EPS of $1.02, up nicely from EPS of $0.88 reported in the same quarter a year ago. Whisper numbers are for EPS of $1.03. Expectations are running high for LOW to come in with a solid quarter after rival Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) reported robust results on Tuesday, beating EPS by $0.07 and boasting a 6.4% increase in same-store U.S. sales. Spring is home improvement retailers' Christmas, and so far the sector is pleasantly surprising. LOW shares are up 4.13% year to date, with a big chunk of those gains coming Tuesday on the heels of HD's solid quarter.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 5: L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) reports Q2 results after today's close. Analysts expect the parent company of Victoria Secret and Bath & Body Works to post EPS of $0.62, up a penny from the same quarter a year ago. Whisper numbers are for EPS of $0.63. The company surprised to the upside in Q1, and projections have LB also coming in ahead of expectations. Shares are up 4.41% year to date.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 6: The J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM) is expected to report fiscal Q1 2015 EPS of $1.37, up from $1.24 in the same quarter a year ago, before today's opening bell. Whisper numbers are for EPS of $1.40. The jam maker surprised to the upside in the prior quarter by 4.3%. Management expects sales to improve in fiscal 2015 backed by strong performance of its K-cup business. The average consensus analyst recommendation on SJM is "Hold," with a median price target of $109.20. At $103.35, shares have barely budged year to date, down 0.27%.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 7. American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) is scheduled to report Q2 earnings before today's open. Expectations are for the specialty apparel retailer to report EPS of $0.00, down from $0.10 in the same quarter a year ago. Whisper numbers are a bit less glum, with EPS coming in at $0.01. Analysts remain guarded, "We are reiterating our cautious stance on American Eagle with the company reporting 2QFY15 results next Wednesday," Wunderlich Securities said last week. "We believe American Eagle has remained somewhat 'stuck' under the current interim management team, with higher than planned inventories and somewhat lackluster fashion looks; we believe weakness has leaked into 3Q. Further, we believe American Eagle, given its mid-tier pricing, will not gain immediate benefits from a stabilizing pricing environment. As such, even with a 4.5%+ dividend yield and a solid brand name, we see no reason to be aggressive in AEO, even with the potential 'catalyst' of a new CEO to be named in FY15."

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 8: Hain Celestial Group Inc. (Nasdaq: HAIN) reports fiscal Q4 numbers Wednesday morning. Analysts expect the organic and natural foods company to post EPS of $0.89, up from $0.65 a year ago. Whisper numbers are for EPS of $0.90. HAIN's prior quarter came in strong on increasing demand for its products. The average analyst recommendation is "Buy" with a 12-month price target of $97.50. At $88.29, shares are down 2.89% year to date.

Bonus - Hot Stocks to Watch 2015: Tesla stock is on track to see a stock explosion that will make its surge back in the spring of 2013 look like a speed bump. In fact, TSLA stock will double in the next year...