This weekly column ran into a roadblock last week. There weren't seven public companies projected to post higher earnings during the week.

New week, same problem.

This issue should resolve itself when earnings season kicks in later this month, but in the meantime, I have to dig a little deeper to find seven reasons to be cheerful. And since we're now facing the highest unemployment rate in 26 years, I'm bringing a backhoe.

1. Let's go Windows shopping
Saturday is the last day that XP and Vista users can preorder an upgrade copy of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 7 Home Premium for just $49. The operating system's suggested retail price will be $119 when it officially hits the market in October.

The world's largest software company is hoping that the new platform will silence the cred-crushing "I'm a Mac" ads that have  -- perhaps unfairly -- hammered Windows Vista.

The July 11 preorder deadline is important. The buzz is building for Windows 7, and the preorder's sharp discount is also making the operating system the top-selling product in's (NASDAQ:AMZN) software store. So it's off to a great start, and we can only hope Microsoft will soon spill the beans on what should be juicy preorder numbers.

2. Let's go retailer shopping
Chain stores will post their comps for the month of June on Thursday, and the market is braced for something ugly. Thomson Reuters sees same-store sales clocking in 4.5% below where they were a year ago.

This is the kind of metric that may worry some investors, but I prefer to approach it from a more optimistic -- and opportunistic -- angle. Crummy comps are already baked into the market. How can the malls be buzzing when folks are still losing their jobs?

Well, the buoyant equity markets have had a favorable impact on consumer confidence. Many weaker retailers have either closed down or scaled back their operations. This situation would benefit the survivors, since they should be able to cut thicker slices of the pie -- even if the pie is getting smaller.

There will clearly be some real losers in specialty retail, but the market is also ripe for more than a few surprises.  

3. Lights! Camera! Multiplex action!
An already hot year at the local multiplex should heat up with Friday's theatrical openings for Bruno and I Love You, Beth Cooper. Exhibitors are loving the box-office buzz, naturally. Even though we're in a recession, escapism and attractively priced matinees are helping draw audiences to the movie houses.

4, 5, 6. There is still growth to be found
Even if we don't have seven companies positioned to post bottom-line buoyancy this week, there are at least three notable standouts projected to grow.


Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO)






Kayne Anderson Energy (NYSE:KED)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Discounter Family Dollar should be thriving in this environment, so its higher profit target isn't a surprise. Getting margins to improve will be the meatier challenge, but Wall Street's finest believe that won't be a problem for the bargain-friendly chain.

Chattem makes over-the-counter drugstore staples Icy Hot, Gold Bond, and Aspercreme, so it also has all-weather appeal. There has been a lot of chatter about penny pinchers trading down to cheaper house brands, but this is probably a bigger problem with foodstuffs at the supermarket than it is at the pharmacy, where loyal Chattem customers are less likely to take chances with less expensive brands.

Kayne Anderson Energy declared a lower quarterly dividend last week, so this report promises to be interesting. It may be the least likely of the three companies above to come through, but something upbeat should come out of either Family Dollar, Chattem, or Kayne. Never look a gift earnings report in the mouth when the market -- on the whole -- is down in the dumps.  

7. On a more Sirius note
I've been following the progress of Sirius XM Radio's (NASDAQ:SIRI) application for iPhone and Web-powered iPod touch devices since its launch last month. It's been a popular download on Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store.

Initial demand was strong enough to catapult the Sirius XM app up the charts. It was the second most popular free app during its opening weekend. However, its ranking quickly began to fade. Poor user ratings didn't help. Nevertheless, the Sirius XM streaming program has crept back into fifth place among free apps during the holiday weekend, after dipping as low as sixth a week earlier.

Sirius XM is doing its part to promote the premium-priced service, but its success would also bode well for other developers who want to monetize App Store programs beyond one-time purchases or ad-supported freebies.

At the very least, we may not be as afraid to commit to premium subscription services as the worrywarts would have you believe.

Some other reads to get you through the week:

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Apple and are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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.