The market's been in a giddy mood over the past two months, but that can always change during earnings season. This is the time of year when companies shed some light on their quarterly financials, and the economy wasn't exactly humming along nicely during the months of January, February, and March.

Let's go over a few of the companies that analysts predict will post declines in year-over-year profitability in next week's results. Some of the names may surprise you.


Latest Quarter EPS (estimate)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)



Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)



Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)









Sealed Air (NYSE:SEE)



Safeway (NYSE:SWY)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
There will be hundreds of companies posting lower earnings next week, but these are just a few of the names that really jump out at me.

Qualcomm has been a buy-and-hold darling over the years, rewarding investors with a better-than-26% annualized return over the past 15 years. It's also in the right niche, wireless, at a time when cell phones and smartphones are selling like crazy. However, it posted a year-over-year drop in earnings three months ago for its fiscal first quarter -- the first time that has happened at Qualcomm in nearly four years -- and it's apparently about to do so again.

Pfizer is another heavy hitter facing Wall Street predictions of lower trailing earnings by the end of next week. I remember when the major pharmaceutical companies were considered safe, all-weather defensive stocks. Hope you've got your rain ponchos.

Procter & Gamble and Safeway may be even bigger surprises here. Supermarkets -- and the companies that stock the shelves -- are supposed to be recession-resistant. One can always suggest that a brand behemoth like P&G, with its Crest toothpaste and Pampers diapers, could be vulnerable in a soft economy, should shoppers trade down to cheaper generics. However, that still doesn't explain why a leading grocer like Safeway would also feel the pinch.

VF also seems vulnerable. The company operates a few retail stores, but it primarily supplies third-party retailers with apparel brands such as Wrangler and Nautica. VF has typically weathered the storm better than fickle mall haunts, and even boosted its dividend for 36 consecutive years. Naturally, it can't maintain that streak for too long, should earnings keep heading the wrong way.

Akamai operates the country's leading content-delivery network. For non-techies, it's basically the delivery service that helps video-sharing sites seamlessly deliver chunky clips, and allows software and digital media companies to serve up purchased programs, upgrades, and content. The Web's still booming; will lower earnings mean that Akamai is slowing down, or that its competition is heating up? 

Sealed Air is the company behind proprietary shipping solutions such as Bubble Wrap and Jiffy Mailers. With online retailers outpacing real-world chains, Sealed Air should be doing brisk business in protecting consumer shipments. Alas, that's not the case. This should be Sealed Air's seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year shortfalls on the bottom line.

Shield your eyes, but peek through your fingers
Are you panicking now? You shouldn't. The market rally has already weathered the first batch of this month's earnings reports and emerged largely unscathed. Of the seven companies that were supposed to post profit dips this past week, only two missed the market's diminished profit targets. Even more encouragingly, three of the companies actually posted higher earnings year over year.

There may even be a few such outperformers in this batch, too. Akamai has beaten analyst estimates in five of the past six quarters. That's a healthy batting average to fall back on, especially when it only needs an extra penny per share to match last year's numbers.

Yes, the economy is in a funk, but companies have been cutting costs to brace for the lean times. I'm worried, of course, but I'm still cautiously optimistic at this point. You can't keep quality companies down, no matter what Wall Street's bean counters may think.

Some other reads to get you through the weekend:

Akamai Technologies is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Procter & Gamble and VF are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders whether his contrarian heart will ever be happy. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.