Maybe there's hope yet that wish lists will contain more than just requests for bars of gold.

I recently reviewed seven bellwethers that report this week and are expected to post lower earnings than they did a year earlier. Thankfully, there are also plenty of exceptions.

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

Pep Boys (NYSE:PBY)



AutoZone (NYSE:AZO)



CKE Restaurants (NYSE:CKR)



Men's Wearhouse (NYSE:MW)



lululemon athletica (NASDAQ:LULU)



United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI)



Oil-Dri (NYSE:ODC)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top.

Pep Boys and AutoZone run auto-parts chains. This has been one of the better-performing sectors during the recession. When drivers can't afford to spring for new wheels, they maintain their existing cars to make sure they last longer.

CKE watches over the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's fast-food joints. This is another theme that's held up well in the lackluster economy. Consumers may not be springing for fancy meals, but CKE's drive-thru diversions offer cheap eats without any white tablecloths or hefty gratuities.

Men's Wearhouse is a little different. Selling designer suits isn't an obvious recessionary play. We're not talking about a new pair of wiper blades or oil-change supplies. This isn't "dollar menu" fare. However, high unemployment rates find a lot of people hitting the pavement for work. As a suit discounter, Men's Wearhouse should be doing brisk business as folks make sure they look their best before heading off to the next job interview.

Ritzy yoga moms know lululemon athletica well. The boutique sells high-end activewear. The chain's success doesn't fit in with the earlier themes, but lululemon was doing really well before the recession hit, so maybe it's just bouncing back to where it was before.

United Natural Foods moves a full line of natural, organic, and specialty products. Between the popularity of whole-food grocers and mainstream grocers widening their selection of generic products, United is benefitting.

Finally we have Oil-Dri, a maker of kitty litter. The popular argument for Oil-Dri is that cat lovers won't put up with stinky litter boxes, regardless of the economy. I don't agree entirely, as a brutal recession can force cat owners into housing fewer felines. However, Oil-Dri appears to be living up to its all weather appeal.

Analysts see both United Natural Foods and Oil-Dri earning $0.36 a share after posting profits of $0.31 a share a year earlier.

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
Investors in these seven stocks have a right to be pumped. They have chosen well in singling out the recessionary growers.

We've had several quarters of thriving auto-supply chains, and some of the other likely winners over the next few trading days have already turned the corner before their latest quarterly reports. However, the market is assuming that the news will be positive on these equities, and that baked-in optimism can be problematic if the financials don't live up to the hype.

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

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 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.