The bullish glow of 2009 has morphed into a mess of woe. Between Greece's debt and the iffy turnaround prospects closer to home, the first six trading weeks of 2010 haven't matched last year's generally upbeat fervor.

That pessimism is also baked into Corporate America. On Friday, I went over seven stocks that analysts see posting lower quarterly profits this week than they did during the same period a year ago.

The outlook's not that bad, though. For every company headed the wrong way, there are plenty of others finding ways to grow in this somewhat dicey environment.  

I was a pessimist on Friday. It's my turn to be the optimist. Here are seven companies that analysts see posting healthier bottom lines this week.


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI)



Avis Budget (NYSE:CAR)



Dollar Thrifty (NYSE:DTG)



Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)



Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS)



Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX)



Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. Whole Foods Market was naturally smacked around when the recession was at its darkest. When income dries up and the concerns of future paychecks run deep, only the bravest soul will choose to pay up for organic groceries or one of Whole Foods' pricey prepared meals.

I've been looking forward to Whole Foods Market's quarterly report for a few weeks now. After five consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines in identical-store sales, the leading organic grocer appears to have turned the corner.

Avis Budget and Dollar Thrifty were two of the hottest stocks of 2009. Dollar Thrifty was nearly a 25-bagger, skyrocketing from $1.09 to $25.61. Avis Budget was no slouch, either. Few would have banked on auto rentals to be the hot sector last year. The fundamentals still haven't completely turned the corner, though. Both companies are still expected to post losses this week. However, those deficits should be substantially smaller than they used to be.

Hewlett-Packard has been a market darling since Mark Hurd took over as CEO, improving margins at the maker of printing and computing products. Squeezing more profits from the company will naturally get more difficult now, but an uptick in IT spending and the debut of Windows 7 should help prop up results on both the top and bottom lines.

Las Vegas Sands is the casino operator behind the popular Venetian resort on the Strip. Investors have also been pumped about the company's expansion efforts in Macau. Casino stocks typically hold up well through brief economic downturns, as folks turn to gambling for a shot at enjoying the riches they used to have. However, when the recessions run deep -- as this one has -- even the house loses. Las Vegas Sands appears to be clawing back toward profitablity at this point.

Barrick Gold is a giant producer of the yellow stuff. It recently did away with its hedge books after two decades, forgoing a juicy locked-in revenue stream, but also allowing the company to fully participate in gold's buoyant prices. Analysts see Barrick's quarterly profit nearly doubling come Thursday.

Finally, we have Wal-Mart in the checkout line. The world's leading retailer has been resilient through the recession. It sells the basics at marked-down prices -- always a good place to be when pennies are being pinched.

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
These aren't the only companies expected to post year-over-year gains this week. Several companies have either found ways to grow during the recession, or have simply cut enough corners to show improvement on the bottom line.

This doesn't mean that investors can rest easy. The bad news here is that these companies are expected to post improving results. The optimism is already baked into their share prices. It makes it 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.

Which of the many earnings reports due out this week are you looking forward to? Share your enthusiasm in the comments box below.

Wal-Mart is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Whole Foods Market is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. It will give you one less reason to worry about this week.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz prefers to look at the bright side of life -- and strife. 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.