I have an idea: What do you say we all start wearing hardhats the moment the market's opening bell goes off?

Mr. Market's moody ways certainly seem dangerous lately. But even with his grouchy temperament, some companies just aren't living up to their potential. I previously singled 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 EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

AutoZone (NYSE: AZO)



Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL)



Jamba (Nasdaq: JMBA)



Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL)



Borders (NYSE: BGP)



Costco (Nasdaq: COST)



H.J. Heinz (NYSE: HNZ)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
AutoZone runs a popular chain of auto-parts stores, a sector that thrived during the recession. Drivers weren't revved up over big-ticket car sales, so they held on to their cars a little longer, putting more maintenance into older models. That's where AutoZone and its peers cashed in. However, we've now had several months of strong new car sales from the leading auto manufacturers, and AutoZone is apparently still growing. Clearly, it must be doing something right.

Trina Solar is yet another solar energy play that was wallowing in red ink a year ago, but is now staring at a brighter horizon. The Chinese maker of monocrystalline ingots, wafers, and solar cells toils away in a cyclical industry, but it should post its fourth consecutive quarterly profit tomorrow.

Jamba runs the growing Jamba Juice chain, which specializes in fresh-fruit smoothies. Analysts aren't expecting a profit on Wednesday, but they are targeting a substantially narrower quarterly deficit. This is a seasonal business, since smoothies are strong sellers during hot summers. However, Jamba has been adding oatmeal, warm beverages, and baked goods to its menu to garner more year-round appeal. That effort still isn't enough to turn the chain into a profit center outside of its telltale summer season, but the expanded menu is a step in the right direction.

Toll Brothers builds homes in upper-middle-class communities. Like most residential developers, Toll has been smarting since the real estate bubble popped, posting 11 straight quarters of losses. Wednesday's report should push the streak to a cool dozen. However, Toll's deficits are shrinking. A glut of available housing will still have to thin out before Toll starts reporting outright profits, but in the meantime, investors can at least cheer on the homebuilder's improvement.

Many figured that big-box bookstore Borders would be toast in this digital age, as more and more e-book gadgetry enters the market. Its expected loss is no surprise; Borders hasn't turned a quarterly profit outside of the holidays since 2005. However, deep pockets continue to believe in the bookseller. Financier Bennett LeBow delivered a $25 million cash infusion to the hungry company on Friday.

Costco is an all-weather winner. The warehouse club offers foodstuffs (and we all need to eat) in bulk sizes to improve unit economics (and we all love to get a bargain). Despite signs that discounting can be a disadvantage during a market recovery, Costco's reputation for quality should serve it well during the transition.

Finally, we have Heinz. The food giant isn't only the king of ketchup. This efficient conglomerate also cranks out Ore-Ida fries, Classico pasta sauces, and Bagel Bites pizza snacks. Analysts expect a profit of $0.59 a share from Thursday's quarterly report. That's just a small step up from the $0.55 a share it earned a year ago, but the income investors buying into a dependable institution such as Heinz wouldn't have it any other way.

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. These companies are expected to post improving results, which means optimism is already baked into their share prices, making 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.

H.J. Heinz is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Costco, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick and 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 owns shares of Jamba, but holds no financial position in any other company mentioned. 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.