'House of Cards' a boon for Netflix, Weight Watchers' stock slims down and American Express' turnaround plan

Stocks struggling to end the month on a high notes today after shrugging off a GDP number that, while positive (2.2%), came in below analyst expectations. For those keeping score at home, the Nasdaq (^IXIC) remains about 20 points from 5000.

February Consumer Confidence came in above expectations but below the January number which was an 11-year high. The recent trend higher in gas prices contributed to the slide in confidence.

Pending Home Sales came in 1.7% higher month-to-month at 8.4 percent and now sit at an 18-month high.

Weight Watchers’ stock slimmed down
The weight loss specialist is seeing its stock hit harder than any other day since the company went public in 2001. Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke says, “Even worse, Weight Watchers hasn’t been able to recreate its group support vibe online. Membership numbers in the virtual world were off more than 16%.”

As the online landscape continues to grow more competitive, the Weight Watchers (WTW) and Avons (AVP) of the world will continue to get crushed by the likes of Amazon (AMZN), Macke posits.

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Hou$ e of Card$
Netflix (NFLX) has released the third season of “House of Cards” today as binge watchers across the country prepare to dive into the latest exploits of Frank Underwood (FYI – spoiler alert in the attached video). Can Netflix bank on this one wildly successful show to impact its bottom line?

“It’s difficult to say with specificity how much money any one show actually drives for the bottom line of Netflix,” notes Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Task. He admits though that Netflix is very good at keeping you in its world once you’ve watched one of its shows.

Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli broke down a Netflix chart around the time of last year’s “House of Cards” release of season two:

View photo

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Netflix (NFLX) 2-year chart

Netflix (NFLX) 2-year chart

You had the continuation of this very strong move right to the moment they released it and then you had rollover, people concerned about user growth and everything… This year again, January report, excellent growth into the high where [they’re] releasing “House of Cards” again in February. I’m not saying it’s gonna roll over again but it does create a certain expectation that good things are happening here.

American Express looks to turn things around
American Express (AXP) announced yesterday a plan to revive interest in its gold card by offering double points at restaurants, personalized travel services, airline service credits and the elimination of foreign transaction fees. It’s all a move to regain the luster of prestige after losing deals with Costco (COST) and some airlines.

Related: American Express to lose Costco exclusivity

“They [had] to do something,” Task says, “because their stock had a nice week but it’s had a pretty rough go to start this year.”

Santoli, for his part, believes American Express hasn’t yet lost all its luster. “I still think it has that prestige status on some level. You do still get better perks. It’s less about just exactly what my rate is and how much credit they’re gonna give me… It’s not easy for them and I think they’re just another player now.”

What to watch next week
As we do every Friday we polled our panel about the biggest stories to watch next week:

Aaron Task is looking ahead to jobs day next Friday. “It’s going to be big because it’s always big,” he says adding that even more attention might be paid to it given Janet Yellen’s testimony on Capitol Hill this week and renewed focus on the schedule to raise interest rates.

Related: Yellen comment highlights simmering debate over return on excess reserves

Michael Santoli is watching for Nasdaq (^IXIC) 5000. “It’s been an amazingly slow trudging orderly rally up to these levels,” he says. “The fact that you have the market a little bit extended as you get to 5000, it would be a really logical place to just take a break for a while.”

Related: Stock market records bring out the fearmongers

Jen Rogers is watching the art market. Sotheby’s (BID) reports on Monday and the famous Armory Show kicks off as well. “This market is red hot right now and I am interested in talking to people as an indicator of a stock market decline because, as you sometimes see, we get these huge, huge sales and then six months later it’s not very good on Wall Street.”

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