Earnings season is here, and it's not all good news.

Sure, most companies seem to be posting healthier profits than they did a year ago. Rounds of cost cuts and buoyed consumer confidence have helped widen the bottom line throughout Corporate America.

Sadly, there are exceptions to the rule. Not every company is in better shape than it was a year ago, and I can prove it.

Even as the economy shows signs of life, there are still plenty of companies posting lower earnings year over year. Let's go over a few of the pretenders expected to post bottom-line slumps next week:


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG)



UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH)



Genzyme (Nasdaq: GENZ)



Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)



Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC)



Verizon (NYSE: VZ)



Exelon (NYSE: EXC)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Plenty more 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 Harley-Davidson. Auto sales have been lead-footin' the accelerator since last summer's "cash for clunkers" campaign, but what about motorcycles? Unfortunately, bike fans aren't exactly in hog heaven. Harley Davidson hasn't delivered a quarter with year-over-year earnings growth in two years. Buyout rumors may have propped the stock higher last month, but I pity the acquirer that doesn't wait for the company to at least show that it's close to turning the corner before making any purchase.

Health-care reform may have eaten into the pricing power and visibility of UnitedHealth and its peers, but why wait until the initiatives begin kicking in? The health-care insurer is already posting lower profitability than it did a year ago.

Genzyme is in the middle of a Carl Icahn boardroom battle, so one has to expect lackluster financials. After all, the billionaire investor typically doesn't usher in a corporate shakeup at a company unless it's broken. The upside is that Icahn doesn't wear the activist hat unless he feels that his target is salvageable. He isn't always right, but at least Genzyme is still profitable.

Lockheed Martin is the defense-contractor behemoth. The company took a tactical blow when the Pentagon announced that it was delaying its order of the company's F-35 fighter jets. Still, fulfillment of the original order was several years away, so the postponement isn't to blame for Lockheed Martin's lackluster bottom line these days.

Banking giants appear to be bouncing back, but the same can't be said about Wells Fargo. Even though it's one of the six big banks that has already repaid the government for its bailout relief, Wells Fargo is still a bit behind some of its peers in posting bottom-line improvement.

Verizon is calling -- and falling. The telco giant pushing high-speed Internet, FiOS television, and red 3G coverage maps (through its Verizon Wireless partnership) probably wouldn't mind a little silence these days. Can you hear me now?

Finally, we have Exelon. The electric utility controls 20% of the country's nuclear-power-generation capacity. The Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation also sports a chunky 4.7% yield. Utility companies are supposed to be slow yet steady growers. Well, not here -- and not now.

Why the long face, short seller?
These seven companies have all seen better days. The market has rewarded many of these stocks with healthy gains over the past year, but they still haven't earned their upticks.

The good news here 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.

Exelon and UnitedHealth Group are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. The Fool owns shares of UnitedHealth Group, which is also a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. 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 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.