This week can be a trap, if you don't watch your step.

I recently went over seven bellwethers that are expected to post lower earnings than they did a year earlier. That evaluation provided a sobering contrast to the past few months of rallying equity prices.

But there are exceptions to the gloom. If you know where to look, the next few days can also 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

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)






BJ's Wholesale Club (NYSE:BJ)



Flowers Foods (NYSE:FLO)



Hormel (NYSE:HRL)


$0.38 (NYSE:CRM)



Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. Computer companies just aren't supposed to be faring well right now, as businesses tighten their belts and consumers flock toward cheap Asian netbooks. Demand for new PCs as part of an upgrade cycle isn't likely to pick up until the release of Windows 7 later this year. Even so, Hewlett-Packard has been delivering impressive results since CEO Mark Hurd took over several years ago, and analysts see HP improving on the bottom line this quarter.

Perrigo is a leading maker of over-the-counter medications and generic versions of prescription drugs. This industry is under the microscope as the country debates changes to its health-care system. The pharmaceutical giants have more at stake over the outcome, though, and Perrigo isn't having a problem gaining ground in the storm.

BJ's runs the popular chain of warehouse clubs by the same name. The recession has motivated consumers to find value in bulk groceries, so BJ's appears to be an all-weather winner. Don't count your earnings before they hatch, though. Gasoline sales have pinched BJ's comps, now that the club's pumps are selling lower-priced fuel than they were last summer. The company is shrewd at containing costs, though, so it should probably do just fine.

Flowers and Hormel are names familiar to anyone who has ever pushed a shopping cart through the grocery store. Flowers specializes in baked goods, with a product line that features Nature's Own breads and Blue Bird doughnuts. Hormel's meatier fare includes chili, bacon, and the ubiquitous Spam.

On the surface, food giants such as Flowers and Hormel should be thriving in this environment, but reality hasn't played out that way. Cash-strapped aisle-strollers are bypassing the major brands and opting for cheaper store brands. Flowers and Hormel are therefore probably in the minority in these days in being blessed with Wall Street's growth projections. is the poster child for cloud computing. Enterprise software isn't an exciting industry at the moment, but is selling server-stored solutions that are cheaper than conventional programs.

Finally, we have Ross Stores. The allure of discounted apparel may seem fairly obvious, but many value-priced chains are struggling. Markdowns have been severe at some retailers, with deteriorating margins eating into the bottom lines. Analysts don't see the downturn nibbling away at Ross Stores this quarter, though.

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, so they're under a lot of pressure. However, 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: is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. 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.