Mr. Market gets a clean slate next week, but 2010 won't be all butterflies and red velvet cupcakes for some stocks.

The equity markets may have been rallying since March, but even as the economy shows signs of turning the corner, there are still plenty of companies posting lower earnings than they did a year ago. Let's review just a few of next week's most prominent potential pretenders:


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS




Lawson Software (NASDAQ:LWSN)



Mosaic (NYSE:MOS)



Acuity Brands (NYSE:AYI)



Monsanto (NYSE:MON)



Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ)



MSC Industrial (NYSE:MSM)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
We'll start with AZZ. The galvanizing services provider and maker of electrical products was recently singled out for its consistent profitability and attractive price-to-earnings and price-to-free cash flow multiples. Unfortunately, those are trailing metrics. Analysts see AZZ reporting a quarterly profit of $0.76 a share, short of the $0.88 a share it delivered a year ago next week. If so, AZZ's P/E will inch higher -- at the very least -- as its trailing earnings creep lower.

Lawson is one of the few enterprise software companies that Larry Ellison hasn't gotten around to buying out. Before you write this off as another company shackled to the recession-weary corporate world, keep in mind that Lawson has only posted lower quarterly earnings once over the past five quarters. The pros see that happening again next week.

Mosaic was a darling when concentrated phosphate and potash were growth plays, but the stock has held up surprisingly well, even as earnings have taken a turn for the worse. The fertilizer provider's stock has nearly doubled since bottoming out in March.

Monsanto was also humming along when agricultural giants were in fashion. These days, the market seems to have changed its tune. Monsanto is projected to simply break even this time, with revenue taking a 25% hit.

Acuity's game is lighting fixtures. Our Motley Fool CAPS community thinks this company is a "bright" idea, tagging it with the highest five-star rating. But fundamentally speaking, its prospects may be dimming. Wall Street sees profits falling by 39% in its latest quarter.

It may be a myth that potent beverages hold up well during an economic downturn. Leading wine and hard liquor maker Constellation Brands -- the company behind Mondavi wines, Black Velvet Canadian Whisky, and SVEDKA Vodka -- isn't expected to make a toast after its fiscal third quarter report next week.

Finally, we have MSC Industrial Direct. The industrial products distributor closed out fiscal 2009 by topping profit forecasts in October and raising its guidance for the quarter that it will discuss next week. Unfortunately, its outlook for earnings per share -- between $0.46 and $0.50 -- is still well off the $0.72 a share it posted a year earlier.

Why the long face, short seller?
Disappointed? It's easy to see why. The market has rewarded many of these stocks with healthy gains over the past few months, but they still haven't earned those upticks.

The good news here is that Wall Street already expects these companies to deliver shrinking bottom lines. In other words, the bad news is already baked into the shares.

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

MSC Industrial Direct is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Monsanto is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters services free for 30 days.

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