I was out of line last week.

In a worrywart fit on Friday, I singled out seven bellwethers that analysts expect will post lower quarterly profits this week. Things may be bad, but they're not that bad. In fact, several companies are actually growing in this recessionary climate.

Since I was gloomy over the weekend, let me cheer you back up. Here are seven companies that analysts believe will post healthier bottom lines this week:


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Casey's General Stores (NASDAQ:CASY)



FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL)



Pep Boys (NYSE:PBY)



Investors Real Estate Trust (NASDAQ:IRET)



United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI)









Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. Casey's General is an obvious winner. Every shopper wants to squeeze as much as they can from every dollar. Discounters like Casey's are making the most of the increased traffic in their stores.

FuelCell Energy is an alternative energy play at a time when the concept of fuel cell power plants is popular, but not necessarily profitable. FuelCell makes the cut this week because analysts foresee it posting a narrower loss than it did a year ago.

Pep Boys is rocking these days. Most of the auto parts retailers, including AutoZone (NYSE:AZO), are enjoying the slowdown in new-car purchases. If more drivers are getting around on older cars, those vehicles will need to be maintained more. It remains to be seen whether "Cash for Clunkers" will hurt this industry, since many owners sent their old cars off to the shredders in exchange for new ones. We'll have a clearer picture on that trend in three months. For now, Pep Boys looks just fine in the rearview mirror.

Investors Real Estate Trust is a REIT that focuses on residential and commercial properties in Minnesota and North Dakota. Not every REIT is getting slammed these days; Wall Street predicts a small uptick in profitability here.

United Natural Foods is a wholesale distributor of natural and organic food products. You may not see this as a growth industry right now, given shoppers' reluctance to pay up for expensive organic wares in this soft economy. (Sorry, Whole Paycheck.) The key here is that United is a distributor, so it reaches consumers even in more conventional grocery store settings. If you think analysts are overly optimistic here, consider that they sorely underestimated United's profit-pumping powers three months ago. That trend is your friend.

AEP Industries manufactures plastic packaging films such as food wrap. Every Dustin Hoffman fan knows that there was a great future in plastics 40 years ago, but you might not think of sandwich wrap as a haven for growth now. Nevertheless, analysts see a sharp reversal of AEP's deficit-riddled year-ago quarter.

Finally, Mediware provides software solutions for the health-care industry. Until we get a clearer picture of what health-care reform will ultimately look like -- if it happens -- it's hard to gauge its impact on Mediware as a small medical software provider. We do know that Mr. Market believes that it was up to the task in its latest quarter, with earnings expected to  nearly double to $0.07 a share.  

Cross your fingers, but know the fundamentals
There aren't too many companies reporting this week -- as a result of the holiday weekend chewing up Monday -- so it's encouraging to see so many companies that are growing their bottom lines in this iffy environment.

This doesn't mean that investors can rest easy. The bad news is that these companies are expected to post improving results. The optimism is already baked into their share prices, which makes it easier for them to slip. But why begin worrying about the companies that we aren't supposed to be worrying about?

If analysts have done well in modeling their profit targets, we'll be just fine.

Some other reads to get you through the week:

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.