You don't want to be in Jim Joyce's shoes today. The Major League Baseball umpire's blown call, with two outs in the ninth inning, cost the Detroit Tigers a perfect game on Wednesday. In some circles, Joyce is now as despised as a Wall Street or oil-company executive.

Sure, he blew a colossal call, but he's also only human. Even in what should have been a perfect game, an umpire isn't perfect. Neither is Mr. Market.

Though the economy seems to be improving, plenty of companies still post lower earnings than they did a year ago. Let's go over a few of the pretenders that are expected to go the wrong way on the bottom line next week.


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Bob Evans (Nasdaq: BOBE)



Brown-Forman (NYSE: BF-B)



Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN)



Titan Machinery (Nasdaq: TITN)



ArcSight (Nasdaq: ARST)



Del Monte Foods (NYSE: DLM)



China Biotics (Nasdaq: CHBT)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Of the many companies posting lower earnings next week, these are just a few of the names that really jump out at me.

Casual dining is one of the first sectors to bounce back during an economic recovery, as consumers return to table-service pampering. Bob Evans should benefit from that rebound, and from the value proposition of its low-priced, comfort-food offerings.

Brown-Forman, the alcoholic beverages giant behind Jack Daniels whiskey and Finlandia vodka, would seem to be an all-weather winner. We drink up when times are good and retreat to the bottle when things are bad. Unfortunately, you won't find any of that sentiment reflected on Brown-Forman's bottom line at the moment.

Networking equipment company Ciena seemed to be bottoming out last year. Unfortunately, Wall Street predicts that Ciena will post its seventh consecutive quarterly loss on Wednesday -- and its widest deficit to date in that run.

Titan Machinery is an agricultural retailer. Selling farmland machinery isn't a bad business, and Titan is trading well above the $8.50-a-share price at which it IPO'd nearly three years ago. Alas, the growth just isn't there for the retailer these days.

ArcSight's shares took a hit three months ago, when the network security software provider missed analyst profit targets. Expectations have been scaled back since then; ArcSight was at least posting flat earnings on an adjusted basis. The pros now see the company taking a small step down with Thursday's report.

Del Monte is a popular brand at the supermarket. It makes canned fruit products, and its pet food line includes Meow Mix and Milk Bone. Shoppers who were buying cheaper generic brands should move back up to the brand names in an improving economic climate. However, Del Monte isn't quite there just yet.

Finally, we have China Biotics. Selling live microbial nutritional supplements may not seem like much of a business, but it's a flourishing niche in China, where the company's products are sold over the counter at pharmacies and supermarkets. China Biotics had posted healthy year-over-year growth in its most recent quarters, so this setback is a bit of a surprise.

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

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.