I'm here to spread some holiday cheer, or at the very least gnaw away at my inner Grinch.

Yesterday, I mentioned seven bellwethers that analysts see posting lower quarterly profits next week, but there seems to be a Santa for every Scrooge on the earnings slate. Plenty of companies are managing to grow in this difficult climate.

I was a pessimist on Thursday. Now it's my turn to be the optimist. Here are seven companies that analysts see posting healthier bottom lines next week.


Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

ConAgra (NYSE:CAG)



Walgreen (NYSE:WAG)






Micron Tech (NYSE:MU)



Park Electrochemical (NYSE:PKE)



American Greetings (NYSE:AM)



Finish Line (NASDAQ:FINL)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. ConAgra is the food giant behind many of the foodstuffs in your kitchen. Between its Swiss Miss pudding cups, Healthy Choice frozen entrees, Chef Boyardee pasta cans, and refrigerated cartons of Egg Beaters, if you think ConAgra doesn't have a presence in your fridge or cupboard, you're just not looking hard enough.

ConAgra's inching higher, and that comes as a welcome relief when many shoppers are strolling the supermarket aisles for bargains and switching out premium brands for cheaper house proxies. ConAgra's ability to grow is a testament to brand loyalty -- and, naturally, its ability to keep costs in check.

Walgreen runs the popular drugstore chain that bears its name. Pharmacies may seem like all-weather winners, but bottom-line growth is commendable when discount department-store chains are marking down generic prescriptions.

OMNOVA makes the coatings that improve carpets, upholstery, paper, and tires. It stumbled through 2008, but it has also delivered year-over-year profit gains in each of the first three quarters of fiscal 2009. The pros see that streak continuing on Monday.

Micron Technology is a leader in memory products and image sensors -- it's not about to forget its quarterly date with investors come Tuesday. Analysts see Micron reversing last year's sharp loss with a modest profit this time around.

Park Electrochemical is a maker of printed-circuit materials used in the telco, Internet, aerospace, and high-end-computing markets. It's popular among Fools, too: It currently sports a five-star rating in Motley Fool CAPS.

American Greetings is the greeting-card titan, and it's a surprising name to see on this list. I can't be the only one willing to send out a JibJab animated greetings or settle for birthday wishes on Facebook over the old-school process of buying a greeting card and mailing it out. The company dabbles in party and celebratory paper goods, but those don't seem like exciting businesses, either.

Well, American Greetings' quarterly report should be an eye-opener. Analysts see quarterly profits soaring by 78% to $0.66 a share on Wednesday.

Finally, we have Finish Line, fittingly enough. The retailer of athletic footwear and apparel has been looking as tired as a marathon runner with 3 miles to go. However, Wall Street expects the chain to post a narrower deficit than it did a year ago. That's a start, or at least a better finish for Finish.

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
These favorable reports during a holiday-shortened trading week are inspiring. It's comforting to see companies that have either found ways to grow during the recession or have simply cut enough corners to show improvement on the bottom line.

That doesn't mean 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, so it's easier for them to slip. But why begin worrying about the companies that we aren't supposed to be worrying about?

If analysts are doing a good job 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 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.