Cheer up, amigo.  

On Friday, I reviewed seven companies that are expected to post lower earnings this week. But not every report is going to act like a party pooper. Despite the rocky economy, several companies are looking to post higher earnings this week -- or, at the very least, narrowing losses.

Once again, I have a table, and I'm not afraid to set it.


Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

Hovnanian (NYSE:HOV)



Toll Brothers (NASDAQ:TOL)



United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI)



Cyberonics (NASDAQ:CYBX)



DynCorp (NYSE:DCP)



Joy Global (NASDAQ:JOYG)



Shanda Interactive (NASDAQ:SNDA)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. Hovnanian and Toll Brothers are homebuilders, and this is still a lousy time to be selling new homes -- and, especially in the case of Toll Brothers, new luxury homes. Even though investors are braced for losses, real estate developers have scaled back their developments, and order cancellation rates are starting to decline from their highs. Hovnanian and Toll are still several quarters -- if not years -- away from returning to profitability, but shallower deficits will do until then.

United Natural Foods specializes in organic foods. Natural-product superstores are smarting, but in part because of increased competition from conventional grocers. A wider market for distribution should be good long-term news for United Natural Foods.

Cyberonics is a leader in neuromodulation. Its vagus nerve stimulation system is an FDA-approved therapy for epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression. Medical products are often recession-resistant, since procedures and treatments are often necessary, and Wall Street is braced for a dramatic bottom-line improvement at Cyberonics.

DynCorp is a defense contractor. Fears of reduction in military spending are weighing on some companies, but DynCorp is doing fine if analysts see its earnings nearly doubling.

Joy Global is a mining-equipment manufacturer. It's coming off a strong quarter, rich with widening margins on a 16% uptick in revenue. Commodities such as copper will always have their price swings, but Joy Global's gear is also a play on the growth of emerging markets.

Finally, Shanda Interactive is a leading provider of online games in China. The country's youth are flocking to Web-based multiplayer fantasy games, and Shanda has years of experience in this booming niche. The combination of healthy growth and attractive valuations -- where all of the major players are trading at 2009 profit multiples in the teens or lower -- makes this an intriguing sector. 

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
Our list this week is encouraging. This past quarter was brutal for the economy, but these seven companies are growing nicely. Then again, they also have more pressure on them than the seven sinkholes I singled out on Friday, since these companies are expected to post improving results. The optimism is already baked into their share prices.

One or more of these companies can still slip, of course. United could fall if penny-pinching shoppers trade down from organic eats to cheaper generic foodstuffs. Defense contractors can experience contract disruptions. And even though most homebuilders have been posting improved results in recent weeks, Hovnanian and Toll could still buck the uptrend.

Of course, just because the news isn't always upbeat, that doesn't mean you can't break out into a Bollywood dance number to celebrate when it happens.

Jai Ho!

Some other reads to get you through the week:

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz prefers to look at the bright side of life -- and strife. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and 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.