The market has been feeling like Santa since mid-March, but there are more than a few Grinch standbys waiting for their curtain call.

The economy is certainly showing some signs of life -- outside of Dubai, Greece, Spain, and Cleveland -- but life isn't so cheery if you look at next week's batch of earnings reports. Despite several months of rallying share prices, several companies are still behind where they were a year ago.

Let's go over a few of the blue chips and seemingly recession-proof companies analysts believe will take a tumble next week. Some of the names may surprise you.


Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE)



Joy Global (NASDAQ:JOYG)






Accenture (NYSE:ACN)



Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)









Source: Yahoo! Finance.

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

Let's start with Adobe. The undisputed champ of desktop publishing should be thriving right now, as print media moves online and consumers Photoshop pictures, author PDF files, and stream videos via Adobe Flash. But all that activity isn't showing up in the bottom line.

This is a time to be spreading joy, but the same can't be said for Joy Global. Analysts see the surface and underground mining-equipment specialist earning 9% less than it did during the same fiscal fourth quarter a year ago.

Paychex is also likely to evoke blank stares over blank checks next week. The payroll enabler for small and medium-sized businesses is expected to earn $0.33 a share in its fiscal second quarter, well short of the $0.39 profit it delivered a year ago. It's hard to hold out for more than that. Paychex hasn't beaten analyst quarterly estimates in nearly two years.

Accenture is the old Andersen Consulting, delivering solutions for management consulting and technology system integration. This may seem like a crummy time to be hitting up companies for consulting arrangements, but Accenture's outsourcing emphasis is often what companies are looking for when they want to shave costs.

Darden runs the Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Olive Garden chains. Casual dining isn't exactly roaring back into favor, but Darden has earned its kitchen stars lately. It managed to grow its profitability by 15% in its previous quarter, despite posting a 5.3% decline in comps during the period.

FedEx has felt the sting from companies holding back on speedy shipments, but what about the e-tail boom? Shouldn't Federal Express be thriving from the surge in online retail? Instead, the pros see profit dropping by a third from last year's levels.

Finally, we have Nike on the block. The maker of athletic footwear and apparel is holding up better than its spokesman Tiger Woods these days, but it's still in for a challenge when it comes to topping last year's bottom line.

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. Nike's failing to "just do it" on the bottom line? A web-savvy software company isn't cashing in on the dot-com migration? This won't be an attractive quarter, no matter how many Olive Garden breadsticks you chow down on.

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.

Adobe and FedEx are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Accenture and Paychex are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Paychex is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders whether his contrarian heart will ever be happy. 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.