This week is loaded with potential minefields.

I recently went over seven bellwethers that are expected to post lower earnings than they did a year earlier. But that was just the tip of the iceberg, my worrywart friends. Many companies are owning up to the fact that they're just not as profitable as they used to be.

There are exceptions, thankfully. If you know where to look, the next few days can be an uplifting experience. Let's go over seven publicly traded companies that are expected to stand tall this week.


Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS




Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD)



Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA)






Automatic Data Processing (NYSE:ADP)



Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL)



MasterCard (NYSE:MA)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. Amgen is the biotech giant that has already caught lightning in a bottle with blockbuster drugs Epogen and Neupogen. It appears to have another winner in denosumab, a promising osteoporosis treatment that may have beneficial implications in treating the bones of breast cancer patients.

Buffalo Wild Wings is a poultry-saucing standout. The chicken-wing chain has been rolling along nicely, even in a crummy climate for its casual-dining rivals. You won't see too many restaurant chains following Buffalo's lead in projecting 25% revenue growth -- and a 20% to 25% spurt on the bottom line -- for 2009.

Panera Bread is one of the rare consumer-facing companies that treated shareholders to capital appreciation in 2008. The quick-service sandwich shop is trading slightly higher in 2009, but it's running with a bigger crowd now. Panera has proved that it can grow its net income nicely despite meandering comps, but shareholders would love to see it firing on all cylinders.

THQ is the one name on the list that isn't banking on a profit. It makes the cut because Wall Street sees the video-game publisher delivering a narrower loss than it did a year earlier.

ADP excels in human resources and payroll processing -- areas that typically suffer in a recession. The opportunity, though, is that corporations looking to scale back their corporate overhead often turn to outsourcing solutions, where ADP thrives.

Colgate-Palmolive is a supermarket superhero. Beyond its two namesake brands, this is also the titan behind Irish Spring, Softsoap, and Hill's Science Diet for pets. Colgate-Palmolive is seen as a defensive stock, but don't consumers shun the premium brands when money is tight? If penny-pinchers spot a green bar of store-brand soap called "Scottish Summer," and it's selling for half the price of Irish Spring, you'd think they would choose the cheaper knockoff. Yet somehow, Colgate-Palmolive is still finding ways to grow.

MasterCard is a surprising name on the list. If you think analysts are aiming too high on MasterCard, consider that the plastic prince has beaten quarterly guesstimates every single time since going public three years ago. Consider also that MasterCard simply markets the plastic -- it leaves issuing banks on the hook for any losses.

However, if folks are spending less, then there will be fewer transaction processing fees to ingest. Battered issuers should also be scaling back their credit card offers. Nevertheless, analysts see MasterCard rising above it all.

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
These seven companies have a lot on their shoulders. They're the ones that investors expect to have grown during the past quarter. Therefore, they're under a lot of pressure, but these companies are up to the task.

The expectations are high, but these seven stocks wouldn't have it any other way.

Some other reads to get you through the week:

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Automatic Data Processing is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings, which is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. 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 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.