It's not a perfect world out there for investors, but things may be starting to get better.

The market's coming off another week of hearty gains, and falling commodity prices may help keep inflation in check in the near term.

I recently went over some of the companies that are expected to post lower quarterly profits when they report this week. Thankfully, they're the exceptions and not the rule.

Let's go over some publicly traded companies that are expected to stand tall this week by posting year-over-year improvement on the bottom line.


Latest Quarter EPS (estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS







Foot Locker (NYSE:FL)



Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST)


$0.93 (NYSE:CRM)



Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with NetApp. The data storage and data management solutions specialist continues to take steps in the right direction. Sure, these are baby steps that we're talking about here. Analysts see revenue and earnings merely inching higher at a 3% pace when it reports tomorrow. However, NetApp has managed to beat Wall Street's profit targets in each of its four previous quarterly outings. In other words, it won't be much of a surprise if Netapp earns more than $0.68 a share.

8x8 is a fast-growing provider of PBX telephony, video conferencing, and other Web-based communication services. I singled out 8x8 in my monthly "5 Stocks Under $10" column, impressed by its margin expansion and healthy double-digit revenue growth.

It's probably going to happen again. Wall Street sees earnings doubling on a 17% increase in revenue.

Foot Locker reports on Friday. The athletic footwear retailer is expected to post marginal improvement on both ends of the income statement. Consumers are apparently not flinching at the high prices of branded athletic footwear these days.

Foot Locker merely met expectations in its most recent quarter, but it beat Wall Street's projections by double-digit percentage margins in each of the three periods before that.

Ross Stores steps up in a week that will be loaded with earnings reports out of leading discount retailers. The "dress for less" apparel retailer will join the parent companies of Kmart, T.J. Maxx, Target, and Marshalls in reporting, giving investors a great snapshot of the state of value-minded retail.

Estimates have been creeping higher for Ross Stores. Analysts were banking on a profit of $1.04 a share two months ago, $1.05 a share last month, and $1.06 a share a week ago. Now the pros are perched at $1.07 a share, well ahead of the $0.93 a share it earned last year.

Finally, we have Salesforce. The poster child of cloud computing has been able to grow at a healthy clip over the years by offering companies cost-effective and scalable cloud-based enterprise software solutions. True to its CRM ticker symbol, customer relationship management applications are its strength.

Margins have historically fluctuated at Salesforce, blurring the heady growth. We're seeing that again this time around, as Wall Street's targeting profitability to inch marginally higher on a 28% top-line pop.

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
Investors in these five stocks have a right to be excited. They are all improving their financial situations. They are worthy of the gains that the market rally has bestowed upon them over the past year.

I wouldn't be uncomfortable owning any of these companies. They're doing the right thing, regardless of Mr. Market's mood swings.

The expectations may be high, but these five stocks wouldn't have it any other way.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.