Where did I leave my party hat?   

Sure, last Friday, I offered up seven companies that are expected to post lower earnings this week. But that doesn't mean I'm the grim reaper or anything. There are a few companies 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 Earnings Per Share (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

99 Cents Only (NYSE:NDN)



Pep Boys (NYSE:PBY)



Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE:PNY)









FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL)



Repligen (NASDAQ:RGEN)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. Dollar stores are attracting penny-pinching shoppers in the current market climate, especially larger retailers such as 99 Cents Only, which offer a broad range of wares and grocery items.

Pep Boys is the popular auto-parts retailer that's also benefiting from the economic downturn. As folks hold on to their cars longer, they're spending a little more on maintenance.

Piedmont is a natural-gas utility. Even though this company's sector is a steady, all-weather haven for defensive income investors, there have already been a few implosions among utilities this year. Shareholders who are spoiled by Piedmont's generous 4.6% yield need the company to deliver on the bottom line.

ArcSight provides compliance and security-management solutions. This is clearly a growth industry at the government level, but can ArcSight come through on the enterprise end as well, when companies are scaling back their expenditures? Mr. Market seems to think so.

Chindex hails from Maryland, but it's a growth story in China, where it provides an array of Western health-care goods. As China's economy continues to grow, Chindex will do well as the world's most populous nation stocks up on cutting-edge hospital technologies, such as surgical robotics. The company's model is resonating with investors -- at Motley Fool CAPS, Chindex is a four-star stock.

Meanwhile, even though it hasn't earned a profit in years, FuelCell Energy is expected to report that it cut its losses somewhat during the past quarter. That isn't very good news, but the entire fuel-cell industry has been struggling lately.

And with its five-star rating in CAPS -- the highest possible -- Repligen is another favorite among Fool.com readers. Despite a patent-infringement settlement victory last year, the drug-patent-rich company is still expected to post a loss this week. However, the deficit should be refreshingly less than the $0.10-per-share loss it served up a year ago.

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
Our list is encouraging. This past quarter was brutal for the economy, but these seven companies are growing -- and in some cases, they're growing nicely.

Some of them have the trend as their friend. Many of Pep Boys' auto-parts rivals and several value-minded discounters like 99 Cents Only have already posted reasonable quarterly gains in recent weeks.

However, these stocks also have more pressure on them than the seven sinkers I singled out on Friday. These are the companies that are expected to post improving results. The optimism is already baked into their share prices. It's easier for them to slip, but why begin worrying about the companies that we aren't supposed to be worrying about?

Cross those fingers, and hope the analysts know what they're doing.

Some other reads to get you through the week:

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.