This year got off to a bit of a wild start, but after all the ruckus, we're pretty much back where we started. The S&P 500 closed at 1,122.97 yesterday, 0.7% ahead of where it was when this up-and-down year began.

This doesn't mean the coast is clear, though. In fact, a lot of companies still have a long way to go before they truly bounce back.

Even as the economy shows signs of turning the corner, plenty of companies continue to post lower earnings than they did a year ago. Let's go over a few of the pretenders expected to go the wrong way on the bottom line next week.


Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO)



Kroger (NYSE: KR)



Oil-Dri (NYSE: ODC)



H&R Block (NYSE: HRB)



Jackson Hewitt



Quiksilver (NYSE: ZQK)



Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Many more companies are likely to post lower earnings next week, but these are just a few of the names that really jump out at me.

Let's start with TiVo. The DVR pioneer is a darling in the courtroom, thanks to its victory over DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH) and EchoStar, but it has struggled to deliver consistent profitability. On the surface, TiVo's problem is a matter of attracting and retaining service subscribers. The number of TiVo owners seems to shrink with every passing quarter. The company's patent-rich portfolio is creating opportunities to grow by licensing its technology, but the end result next week is likely to be a wider quarterly deficit.

Kroger is a leading supermarket chain. In good times, people eat. In bad times, people still eat -- and likely more so from grocery stores, since it's more expensive to eat out than it is to cook at home. So even though grocers should be all-weather companies, there appears to be a hole in Kroger's poncho.

Oil-Dri makes cat litter. I remember hearing an analyst on CNBC praising Oil-Dri during the early stages of the recession. His argument was that folks will sacrifice plenty of things when money is tight, but cat owners won't put up with dirty litter. That may not be a fair thesis, since cat lovers may not be able to take on as many felines as they would like in the first place. That would certainly dry up demand for Oil-Dri's Jonny Cat and Cat's Pride litter.

H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt are leaders in tax preparation. This is a busy time for the industry, but the trends are stacked against the hands-on filing firms. Faced with competition from economical software and free online platforms, the tax preparers had turned to questionable tax-refund anticipation loans, but that revenue stream may be drying up.

Quiksilver is a trendy retailer specializing in surf and skate apparel. It also has a hand in snow-sports garb, but not enough to prevent a seasonal lull. Yes, this is one of the few retailers that actually takes a step back during the holidays.

Vail Resorts, on the other hand, lives for the slopes. This is the company's peak earnings season, but analysts see a 32% dip in profitability. The economy is in better shape this ski season than it was a year ago, but skiers have had longer to plan on scaling back when it comes to their snowy diversions.

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 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.

The Fool owns shares of Vail Resorts, which is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. 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.