The Dow did a chin-up with the 10,000 bar this month, but is it strong enough to do another one come November?

Earnings season has gone pretty smoothly, but plenty of companies out there aren't behaving as if they're worthy of their rally gains.

Let's go over a few of the blue chips and seemingly recession-proof companies for which analysts see the arrows pointing down on the bottom line next week. Some of the names may surprise you.


Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

Sysco (NYSE:SYY)



Marvel Entertainment (NYSE:MVL)












Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)



Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Several companies will post lower earnings next week, but these are just a few of the names that really jump out at me.

Let's start with Sysco. The food-service giant should be an all-weather performer. Even if folks aren't eating out at restaurants, Sysco is still stocking the kitchens of recession-proof hospitals, schools, and prisons. The company is such a steady performer that it has consistently raised its dividends every year for more than three decades. Keeping that streak alive will be hard to justify if earnings continue to decline.

Marvel investors are braced for profits to fall sharply in its latest quarter. Despite the comic-book company's success in milking cinematic and licensing revenue out of its inked characters, weakening profitability could have led Marvel to agree to its $4 billion buyout.

Cisco is Sysco's phonetic twin, but they have little else in common. Cisco is the networking giant that in its heyday temporarily commanded the largest market cap of all domestic companies. It's a fair company to track in gauging the pulse of the corporate economy. Earnings should dip next week, and if so, that will give it perhaps the only other thing it shares with its phonetic twin.

Comcast is the country's leading cable-television provider. The company has been able to grow during the recession, despite the temptation for couch potatoes to hoard away more money by scrapping their cable bills. After all, most of the networks are streaming their content online, aren't they?

Garmin has been pounded for a couple of years, so it's not a surprise to learn that the GPS titan still hasn't found its way back to its gravy days of growth. It has been slow to get its nuviphone off the ground, and by now, it may be too little, too late.

Time Warner has been in flux with its publishing and online arms. It took too long to unload AOL, and its cable network properties are at the mercy of the same trends that are threatening Comcast as a cable provider. It's also running out of Harry Potter flicks.

Finally, we have Activision Blizzard. As the largest video-game maker, it never leaves us too far away from the next Call of Duty or World of Warcraft installment. But its once-beefy Guitar Hero franchise isn't exactly being called out for an encore these days.

Why the long face, short seller?
These reports aren't likely to be pretty. Many of these stocks are market darlings in seemingly healthy sectors, to boot. A food-service leader that's losing its bite? A cable provider that's losing touch with the living room? This isn't going to be an attractive quarter, no matter how fantastic you think the Fantastic 4 are.

There is a silver lining, though. Investors are already braced for the worst with these reports. If there is an upside to this grim list, it's that lower profitability is already baked into next week's reports, so the door is open for unexpected surprises.

The more I think about it, the less worried I become.