Earnings season is just around the corner. Given the rallying equity prices over the past 13 months, investors may be expecting robust results. These heady market gains must be warranted … right?

Not necessarily. Some companies aren't in better shape than they were a year ago. Let's go over a few of the pretenders expected to post lower earnings next week.


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Hooker Furniture (Nasdaq: HOFT)



Bank of America (NYSE: BAC)



General Electric (NYSE: GE)



Pacific Continental (Nasdaq: PCBK)



Alliance Financial (Nasdaq: ALNC)



Valmont (NYSE: VMI)



Knoll (NYSE: KNL)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Many more companies will likely post bottom-line slumps next week. These are just a few of the names that really jump out at me.

Posting a decline in profitability isn't new for home-decor importer Hooker Furniture. Hooker's done just that on a quarterly basis throughout the past two years. If you think Mr. Market frowns on this kind of performance, think again. Hooker's shares have more than tripled since bottoming out 13 months ago.

Bank of America is one of the "too big to fail" juggernauts, but the company's bottom-line performance indicates that it is, in fact, failing. As the industry waits to find out what kind of banking reform Congress will enact -- and shareholders wonder when the sector will return to beefier payouts -- we'll have to put up with a fraction of the earnings B of A delivered a year ago.

General Electric joins B of A as another major Dow component posting lower earnings year over year. With interests in everything from turbine engines to financial services, GE's reports carry a lot of weight across various sectors. GE slashed its dividend a year ago. I'll be interested to see whether it raises its payout before earnings growth returns.

Bank of America may be "too big to fail," but fellow financial-services firms Pacific Continental and Alliance Financial are small enough to quietly go kaput. Don't be so quick to dismiss these small banks, though. Alliance Financial was one of the few banking stocks to actually raise its payouts last summer.

Valmont's been in the news lately. Last month, the maker of lighting poles and other support structures offered to buy British industrial engineer Delta. This week, it completed a $300 million unsecured notes offering. Wall Street is expects Valmont to post a profit of $0.80 a share on Thursday. While that doesn't sound too bad, it'd represent a drop of more than 40% year over year.

Finally, Knoll looks anything but grassy. The office furniture specialist is pegged to earn less than half of what it did a year earlier. Corporate furniture manufacturers are often proxies for the state of business expenditures. If Knoll's not selling a lot of office systems, task chairs, and file cabinets, its customers probably aren't doing much hiring.

Why the long face, short seller?
These seven companies have all seen better days. Though the market has rewarded many stocks with healthy gains over the past year, this group still hasn't earned those upticks.

On the bright side, 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.

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.