Greece is the word. Unfortunately, it's a word that I can't print in this column.

With global economies on edge, a worrywart may very well propose that the world's financial recovery could soon face a serious challenge. I certainly didn't make things any better on Friday, singling out seven stocks that are projected to post lower earnings this week than they did a year earlier.

Thankfully, there's actually more good news than bad news on the earnings front. Between recessionary cost-cutting and general improvement from last year's depressed levels, several companies are in better shape now than they were a year ago.

Let's go over seven companies that analysts see posting healthier bottom lines this week:


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Ford (NYSE: F)



Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU)



Green Mountain Coffee (Nasdaq: GMCR)



Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S)



Visa (NYSE: V)



Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY)



ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
We'll start at the top. Ford hasn't has to ease on the accelerator since last summer's "cash for clunkers" program. New car sales have been strong over the past few months, and the automaker is setting its sights on roads and highways abroad.

Baidu is China's leading search engine, by a wide margin. Forget about Big G's exit from the country and the opportunity that it represents for Baidu to grow its already substantial market share. Baidu is doing just fine right now. The stock may not be cheap on a trailing earnings basis, but analysts see the search star's profit doubling in its latest quarter.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is another speedster. This is the company behind the Keurig single-cup java brewer. It's also there to provide the lucrative K-Cup portion packs that refill the machine with premium bean blends. In its previous quarter, K-Cup shipments soared 82% to 650 million individual refills. It also shipped out 1.5 million new Keurig coffee makers. If those buyers are still drinking, K-Cup volumes should continue to grow.

Sprint Nextel is the only company on the list projected to post a loss this week. Analysts see a $0.17-a-share deficit come Wednesday. Still, that's a narrower loss than the $0.21 a share Sprint surrendered a year ago. These are challenging times for wireless carriers -- especially for those that don't have the iPhone to beef up their smartphone presence.

Those unfamiliar with credit card giant Visa may falsely assume that it has to be suffering in this age of foreclosures and loan defaults. Not exactly. Visa simply markets the cards and collects its thin slice from merchant transactions. The issuing banks take on the credit risk. Naturally, Visa will suffer if folks aren't charging as much, and if banks issue fewer cards. All the same, analysts see Visa's earnings soaring 25% in its latest quarter, so it must be doing something right.

Investors used to bank on big pharmaceutical companies for steady, all-weather growth, but the sector has fallen out of favor in recent years. Fears of patent expirations for major drugs are leaving pharmaceutical investors with little left to hang on to beyond the sector's chunky yields. Bristol-Myers Squibb is paying out a sweet 5.2%.

Finally, we have ExxonMobil. Fueled by petroleum's rising prices, the oil giant commands the nation's largest market cap. A few tech darlings are starting to catch up, but there's nothing like a stellar quarter to stay ahead of the stock rivals breathing down Exxon's back -- and that's exactly what the pros see come Thursday.

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
These aren't the only companies expected to post year-over-year gains this week. Several companies have either found ways to grow during the recession, or have simply cut enough corners to show improvement on the bottom line.

This doesn't mean that investors can rest easy. The bad news here is that these companies are expected to post improving results. The optimism is already baked into their share prices. That makes it easier for them to slip. But why begin worrying about the companies that we aren't supposed to be worrying about?

If analysts are doing a good job modeling their profit targets, we'll be just fine.

Which of the many earnings report due out this week are you looking forward to? Share your enthusiasm in the comment box below.

Sprint Nextel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Baidu, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. Ford is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor 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's disclosure policy prefers to see the balance sheet as half full.