If there's one positive thing that can be said about Friday's ugly close to last week's trading it's that the Dow Jones Industrial Average still managed to close above 11,000. We live in illogical appreciation of round mile markers, and that market's been generally rolling in recent weeks.

It's not all perfect. I recently singled out seven stocks that are projected to posts lower quarterly profits this week than they did a year ago. Thankfully, there will actually be far more companies improving their bottom lines this week than those going the wrong way. Is it the more confident consumer?

Let's go over seven publicly traded companies that are expected to stand tall this week by posting year-over-year improvement on the bottom line.


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)



Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS)



Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)



Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO)



E*TRADE (Nasdaq: ETFC)



Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN)



Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top.

Apple appears to have another hit in its arsenal with this month's release of the iPad, but the hot gadget obviously won't factor into its quarter that ended in March. It's unlikely to need to assist. The iPhone remains the smartphone of choice, and perpetual MacBook refreshes keep its fan base close. If Wall Street's profit target appears lofty, keep in mind that Apple has topped guesstimates in each of the past 25 quarters.

Goldman Sachs made headlines for all the wrong reasons last week. The investment banker is coming under fire. The SEC is alleging that it defrauded investors. A director is being investigated for insider-trading charges. The one thing that Goldman Sachs is likely to get right is tomorrow's quarterly report.

Johnson & Johnson is the company behind pharmaceuticals, Band-Aids, and its namesake baby shampoo. Like most of its Big Pharma peers, J&J also packs a juicy dividend. The pros see it barely posting bottom-line improvement, but any step in the right direction is a step in the right direction.

Yahoo! hasn't been able to keep up with the industry leader in search, but a rebound in online advertising appears to be in the cards this year. This isn't the only reason to wax optimistic on the purple bleeders. The latest data from cyberspace traffic watcher comScore reveals that Yahoo! gained market share -- sequentially -- in March. Yahoo! had been mostly sliding in previous months, so this bodes well the company.

E*TRADE is once again at the heart of buyout rumors, but the real story may be taking place on the discount broker's bottom line. Analysts see E*TRADE posting a deficit of $0.03 a share, a lot less red ink than the $0.41-a-share loss it reported a year earlier. The online trader is closing in on breakeven results, and that would be something special. E*TRADE hasn't served up a quarterly profit in nearly three years.

Amazon.com is coming off a blowout holiday quarter. The leading e-tailer's Prime loyalty program is helping smooth out seasonality, generating healthy sales throughout the year from shoppers taking advantage of the unlimited fast-shipping deal. Amazon is another company that rarely misses Mr. Market's targets, and it's also one where free cash flow has been historically kind compared to reported profitability.

Finally, we have Microsoft. After hearing everyone in their televised ads claim that Windows 7 was their idea, we get to hear from the company that actually birthed the new operating system. As the world's largest software company, Microsoft relies on strength in corporate IT budgets and consumer computing trends to bring home the bacon. Wall Street is banking on modest earnings growth in Thursday's report.

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 are worthy of 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.

The expectations 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.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Apple and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Johnson & Johnson and a diagonal call position on Microsoft. 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.