Barring a last-minute surge, January is shaping up to be the market's first losing month since June.

To be fair, January's losses pale in comparison to the huge gains that Mr. Market has delivered since the rally began 10 months ago. For the most part, investors are probably comforted by the evidence that the economy is beginning to turn the corner.

Unfortunately, not every company is benefiting from this alleged turnaround. More than a handful of companies 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 for which analysts see the arrows pointing down on the bottom line next week. Some of the names may surprise you.


Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS (NASDAQ:SOHU)









Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)






Pitney Bowes (NYSE:PBI)



Simon Property Group (NYSE:SPG)



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 One of China's leading online portals would seem to be a logical beneficiary if foreign companies begin pulling out of the world's most populous nation. Sohu also has a majority stake in one of the country's fastest-growing online-gaming companies. The real shocker with Sohu is that China has bounced back from the global recession faster than the rest of the globe, yet this will probably be the third consecutive quarter that finds Sohu posting year-over-year declines in profitability.

UPS is another surprising sinker. Obviously, folks aren't supposed to be hitting up parcel delivery services during an economic lull, but things were at their bleakest during the 2008 holiday-containing quarter. The sandbagging should be making the 2009 holiday-inclusive quarter a no-brainer for improvement. Well, it's not happening -- and this is even with the country's largest e-tailer announcing that fourth-quarter net sales rose by a whopping 42%.

Akamai is the undisputed champ among content-delivery networks. If you're consuming video streams, downloading commercial software, or having Web pages from major sites served up quickly, there's a good chance that you're witnessing Akamai in action. We're only sucking up more bandwidth these days, so Akamai is a surprising non-grower right now.

And what's the deal with Pfizer? Drug companies were supposed to be recession-resistant portfolio bulwarks. All that many of them seem to be good for these days are chunky dividends. Sure, Pfizer's 3.9% yield is refreshing, but hefty payouts aren't sustainable if earnings keep shrinking.

CME Group, the company behind the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, should be rocking as investors diversify into commodities. JPMorgan even upgraded the stock yesterday! Unfortunately, analysts see CME Group earning $3.41 a share in its latest quarter, short of the $3.58 it delivered a year earlier.

Pitney Bowes has been surprisingly steady over the years, with the metered-mail behemoth working on an enviable track record of dividend boosts. It also issued guidance last month, indicating marginal improvement in revenue and adjusted earnings for 2010. Unfortunately, that's not going to save it next week, when Pitney Bowes is widely expected to post a dip in profitability as it closes out 2009.

Finally, we have Simon Property Group. I ripped into the leading mall operator last summer, after spotting an ugly divergence at its regional malls. Occupancy levels and sales per square feet were shrinking, yet Simon was collecting higher rents from its frustrated tenants. Now that the economy is gradually turning the corner, one would expect shoppers to return to the suburban malls. Well, the pros don't see that helping Simon's bottom line when it reports next Friday.

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 Chinese dot-com that's struggling to grow its net income? A website-delivery enabler that's checking with a "404 -- Growth Not Found" error? What can brown not do for you? This isn't going to be an attractive quarter, no matter how cute the new fashions being rung up at Simon's malls may be.

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.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Akamai Technologies and are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Pitney Bowes and United Parcel Service are Motley Fool Income Investor choices. 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.