The trading week kicks off with home improvement chain Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) and its first-quarter report. You have to love the timing. Lowe's reports on Monday. Home Depot (NYSE: HD) steps up a day later.

The reports should be surprisingly similar. Each company earned exactly $0.41 a share during the same period a year ago. This time we have the pros projecting a $0.25-a-share profit at Lowe's and $0.28 a share on Home Depot's bottom line.

Things are unlikely to improve until the icy credit markets thaw out, and even then it may not matter until home prices begin inching higher. Homeowners used to open home equity lines or have cash-out mortgage refinances, using the money for makeover projects. With many mortgages underwater (meaning the owners owe more than the house is worth), that's just not possible.  

Analog Devices
(NYSE: ADI) checks in. Wall Street sees the integrated circuits company earning just $0.09 a share. It would be the company's least profitable quarter in years, and well shy of the $0.45 a share that it earned last year.

Several specialty retailers will empty out their registers. Hot Topic (Nasdaq: HOTT), Gymboree (Nasdaq: GYMB), and Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD) are a few of the mall regulars that will report. These are seasonal companies, so don't let the lackluster performances frighten you any more than they will mall landlords.

(NYSE: GPS) steps up. It shouldn't be anything special because Gap hasn't been all that exciting since its gravy days of denim and khaki. These days the retailer is struggling to makes its Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic concepts relevant again. It may happen. Every fallen darling deserves a shot at redemption. Unfortunately, a turnaround is unlikely in this cruel retailing environment.

What do traders do on the Friday before a holiday weekend? Well, they don't have to worry about earnings reports, because companies want to get an early jump on the Memorial Day weekend, just like you. Make the most of the break by catching up on the early summer blockbusters at the multiplex or taking a closer look at your portfolio. There is no better time for spring cleaning.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Home Depot is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Limited Brands is a former Income Investor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look forward. 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.