We're in the thick of earnings season, so the deluge of quarterly reports shouldn't surprise anyone.

Stocks have been rallying most of the past 10 months, and there are other positive signs pointing to an economic turnaround. Unfortunately, those tides aren't helping to lift all boats. There are more than a handful of companies that are still going the wrong way on the bottom line.

Let's go over a few of the blue chips and seemingly recession-proof companies that analysts see reporting disappointing numbers next week. Some of the names may surprise you.


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL)






Verizon (NYSE:VZ)



ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP)



Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY)



Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)



Nokia (NYSE:NOK)



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 Halliburton. The company may be politically controversial, but it also has its hands in everything from water management to unconventional gas to carbon capture and storage. These are promising industries, but analysts see Halliburton earning just a third of what it did a year ago.

VMware is leading the way in virtualization software, but the pros see a sharp drop in profitability. This doesn't necessarily mean that virtualization is dead. Those same analysts see revenue rising 7% in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter last year. VMware just needs to shore up its margins, but that's easier said than done in these competitive times.

Verizon may have most of the country covered with its wireless service, but it apparently can't even cover last year's fourth-quarter net income. Verizon's recent price cut on its data plans is unlikely to improve margins in the near term. Can you steer me now?

Given the way energy prices soared throughout 2009, one would expect ConocoPhillips to be booming. The company, which is involved in exploration, production, and refining, is a darling among Fools -- it's rated five stars on Motley Fool CAPS -- but there aren't star-studded projections for its quarterly numbers, to be reported on Wednesday.

The market sees Bristol-Myers Squibb earning less than the $0.46 a share it posted a year ago. If it does, the drug company would break a streak of 11 quarters of year-over-year earnings growth. Income investors snapping up Bristol-Myers Squibb for that juicy 5.1% yield may also want to keep an eye on this downward trend.

Stroll down the supermarket aisle and Procter & Gamble will swan dive into your shopping cart. We're talking about Crest toothpaste, Pringles potato chips, and Tide laundry detergent. A year ago, it was easy to brace for pain. Penny-pinching shoppers were bypassing big brand names for cheaper store brands. Now that the economy is showing signs of life, why isn't Procter & Gamble back on track?

Finally, we have Nokia. It seems as if everybody has a wireless handset these days, and that should mean great things for global leader Nokia. Unfortunately, it's not one of the hot smartphone makers domestically. The Finnish company should be able to overcome that, given its global presence, but its bottom line isn't cooperating.

Why the long face, short-seller?
These reports aren't likely to be pretty. Many of these stocks are in seemingly healthy sectors, to boot. A wireless handset maker failing to make a connection with consumers? Gee-whiz virtualization technology not catching on as expected? This isn't going to be an attractive quarter, no matter how bright that tube of Crest toothpaste makes your teeth look.

There is a silver lining, though. Investors are already braced for the worst with these reports. If there is an upside, it's that lower profitability is already baked into next week's reports. It actually opens the door for unexpected surprises.

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

Nokia is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice and VMware is a Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble, which is an Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders if 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.