The sky didn't fall last week.

It wasn't supposed to, even though the market was on the wrong side of a terrible drubbing a week earlier.

I'm no weatherman, but the skies don't look all that cloudy this week either. Sure, on Friday I pointed out seven stocks that are projected to post lower earnings this week than they did a year earlier.

Thankfully, there's 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's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ)



Home Depot (NYSE: HD)



Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT)



GameStop (NYSE: GME)



Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF)


($0.26) (NYSE: CRM)



Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. Hewlett-Packard has gone through a huge transformation since turnaround guru Mark Hurd took over as CEO. HP has been able to keep its flagship printer business humming along as its once controversial Compaq acquisition continues to pay off under Hurd's watch. HP has met or exceeded analyst profit expectations over the past several years, so history is on its side to deliver another step forward.

The orange aprons are back at Home Depot. This should be the second consecutive quarter of year-over-year earnings growth at the leading home-improvement retailer. It was quite the rebuilding project. Home Depot had suffered through 11 straight quarters of year-over-year dips in profitability before last quarter's turnaround.   

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer. The discount department store coasted through the recession. Consumers know that they can stretch their greenbacks at a store that prides itself on slashing prices as a result of economies of scale, beefy purchasing power, and its ability to turn inventory over quickly. However, there is always the possibility that thrifty shoppers will trade up to more fashionable retailers when disposable income becomes a little more -- umm -- disposable. Wal-Mart is still inching higher, though.

GameStop is a surprising name on this list, given the sorry state of its industry. It's predicting positive comps this year, with 14% to 18% in net income growth. However, that call came before video-game industry tracker NPD Group announced that April sales for the sector took a 26% hit. GameStop's saving grace has been that it doesn't take a lot of selling space or employees to run its small-box stores. I can't imagine its outlook remaining as rosy come Thursday, but analysts still think GameStop's bottom line is moving in the right direction.

Abercrombie & Fitch is the hip mall retailer with the controversial CEO. This is the guy who received $36.3 million in compensation last year -- nearly half of the chain's earnings from continuing operations in 2009. This is also the same CEO who was paid $4 million earlier this year so he would stop abusing his perk of unlimited personal use of the corporate jet. Don't let the expected deficit in tomorrow's report stir up more anti-CEO hatred. Abercrombie & Fitch is just coming off its seasonally sleepy quarter. Losses are expected, and cutting last year's red ink almost in half is clearly a good thing.

The poster child of cloud computing is also doing well. Companies are turning to's Web-stored solutions for enterprise software. Why not? They're typically cheaper than traditional programs, and they're accessible from anywhere that online connectivity is available. Wall Street sees earnings doubling to $0.30 a share.

Finally, we have Staples. The office-supply chain is springing back to life, and it certainly wasn't fodder for its "easy" button. Corporations scale back on spending during market downturns, so strength at Staples is significant on different levels. Then again, investors shouldn't be surprised. The company bumped its dividend higher two months ago, signaling near-term optimism in the process.

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 investors can rest easy. The bad news is that these companies are expected to post improving results. Since the optimism is already baked into their share prices, it's 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 comments box below.

Home Depot and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Staples is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended writing covered calls on GameStop. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. It will give you one less reason to worry about this week.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz prefers to look at the bright side of life -- and strife. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and 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.