What to Expect From Retail Earnings

The first quarter earnings season is mostly over, but next week we get the last wave of reports from retailers...that's because most retailers report on a February to April quarter.

So we'll hear from Home Depot, Best Buy, Saks, TJX, Lowe's, Gap, Target, Ralph Lauren and Autozone.

Here's the problem with retailers: they're expensive, and for many there may not be a lot of room left in the stock because many are at new highs. Most did pretty well in the recovery, they got margins back up, and many got most of their sales back, but if you're a department store like Saks, there's other aspects of the economy that will grow faster...housing...autos...appliances, for example.

(Read More:Why Investors Should Mind the 'Gap')

Another problem: last year was a really warm spring, but this year it's been a cold spring, so gross margins are down because they had to discount due to the poor weather.

The names that matter most next week are Home Depot and Lowe's because that's the play on home improvement. If they are strong, it could drag more investors into the whole home improvement space.

(Read More: Reputations on the Line: Retailers Rethink Sourcing)

And many carefully watch Ralph Lauren because it's a good read on the "affordable" luxury market.

By CNBC's Bob Pisani

  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.