It's earnings season again, and the news won't be all good. I recently singled out seven stocks projected to post lower quarterly profits this week than they did a year ago. Thankfully, they're in the minority this time around.

Far more companies will improve their bottom lines this week. Should we thank more confident consumers? Shrewd cost-cutting at the corporate level? The good news probably owes to a little bit of everything.

Let's go over seven publicly-traded companies expected to post year-over-year improvement on the bottom line:


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Alcoa (NYSE: AA)



Intel (Nasdaq: INTC)



Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD)



JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM)



Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM)



Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)



Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Alcoa reports after today's closing bell. The aluminum giant's projected profit of $0.10 a share may not seem like much, but any black ink is an improvement over the deficit it generated during the same period a year ago.

Intel and AMD combine to provide a great snapshot of the computing industry. The microprocessor specialists are awakening from the recessionary lull, and global demand for computer chips will likely continue to strengthen. Intel and AMD should be applauded for pushing the envelope in chip efficiency. Shareholders' faith should be rewarded this week with healthier income statements.

JPMorgan Chase reports on Wednesday. With financial reform long overdue -- and no longer on the back burner -- every banking giant that steps up to the earnings podium in the coming days will come under increased scrutiny.

Yum! Brands is a fast-food behemoth. Its corporate moniker may be hokey, but honestly, who hasn't eaten at one of the company's Taco Bell, KFC, or Pizza Hut restaurants? If you think that its chains have already saturated the market, it's time to think outside the bun. Yum! Brands has flexed serious expansion muscle abroad, particularly in China, where it opened more than 500 eateries last year.

Google didn't have much of a problem growing during the downturn of the advertising market, so it certainly won't slow down now. The world's leading search engine is targeted to grow its quarterly profitability by 27% this week. If that seems overly ambitious, think again. Google has usually found a way to top Wall Street's estimates. The undisputed champ in online advertising also reports before its smaller rivals do, which typically means that its competition will just keep shrinking in its rearview mirror.

Finally, Intuitive Surgical climbs on the table. The company behind the da Vinci robotic surgical arm has revolutionized the way some operations are performed. We're living through tricky times, where cash-strapped hospitals and the unsure implications of health-care reform cast shadowy doubts on some suppliers of medical equipment. Intuitive Surgical isn't one of them. Its ability to improve surgical-room turnover while keeping surgeons less fatigued appears to be an all-weather winner. Shares of Intuitive Surgical have soared almost 700% since they were originally recommended to Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service subscribers five years ago. Intuitive's heady earnings growth continues at a torrid pace.  

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
Investors in these seven stocks have a right to be excited. They are all improving their financial situations. They deserve the gains that the market rally has bestowed upon them over the past year.

I wouldn't be uncomfortable owning any of these companies. They're doing the right thing, regardless of Mr. Market's mood swings. Expectations for them may be high, but these seven stocks wouldn't have it any other way.

Are you a buyer or a seller of stocks these days? Share your strategy in the comment box below.

Google and Intuitive Surgical are Motley Fool Rule Breakers choices. The Fool has created a covered strangle position on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel and a bull call spread position on Yum! Brands. The Fool owns shares of Intel, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days.

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.