Life is good if you're selling iPhones and iPads, but it's a lot harder if you're not.

As the mainstream media gushes about long queues for iPhone 4 smartphones as a surefire sign that the economy is bouncing back, I'm a little more skeptical.

We're seemingly in an improving economy, yet there are still plenty of companies posting 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's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS)



General Mills (NYSE: GIS)



Sealy (NYSE: ZZ)



Lindsay (NYSE: LNN)



Smith & Wesson (Nasdaq: SWHC)



UniFirst (NYSE: UNF)



DemandTec (Nasdaq: DMAN)



Sources: Yahoo! Finance, AOL Finance.

Clearing the table
There will be more companies posting lower earnings next week, but these are just a few of the names that really jump out at me.

Barnes & Noble is the leading book-superstore chain. The retailer made waves on Monday, when it slashed the price of its Nook e-book reader. Investors have every right to wonder whether the device can turn a profit at its new price points, but then B&N wasn't exactly making a whole lot of money before the move. On Monday, the company reports its results for the quarter ending May 1. Read a good book lately? Read a red book lately? Analysts are braced for red ink.

General Mills is the cereal thriller behind Lucky Charms and Cheerios. It executed a stock split earlier this month. Isn't that typically done by companies with improving fundamentals? Well, Wall Street is targeting a bottom-line dip for the first time in over a year on Tuesday. Many food companies suffered during the recession as supermarket shoppers bypassed popular brands for cheaper house knockoffs, but General Mills had held up pretty well -- until now, apparently.

Sealy is the mattress maker with the cutesy catching-Zs ticker symbol. The early whiffs of a market recovery should be welcome news for this company. If empty pockets forced folks to sleep on lumpy mattresses, the pent-up demand should help today. Well, it's working out that way. The pros are braced for a profit of $0.02 a share, well short of the $0.07 the company delivered a year ago. Shareholders assuming that analysts typically underestimate a company's earnings potential should note that Sealy missed Wall Street's profit target in its most recent quarter. Sleep on that.

Lindsay makes agricultural irrigation systems. Farmlands need water, and emerging economies mean even more crops need to be maintained. Right? Well, growth apparently isn't in Lindsay's harvest next week.

Smith & Wesson cleaned up nicely during the recession. Fears of tighter gun controls and recessionary crime helped the pistol maker last year. It's not exactly firing blanks these days, but this should be the second consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines on the bottom line.

UniFirst provides companies with workforce uniforms and protective gear. This should normally be a great proxy for the state of the country's economy. If Corporate America isn't hiring, UniFirst will have fewer pressed uniforms to dish out. UniFirst remains very profitable, but it's a shell of what it was at this point a year ago.

Finally, we have DemandTec. Back in April, the software company warned of a loss between $0.06 and $0.08 a share for the quarter that it's set to report on come Thursday. At the time, Wall Street was banking on a small profit.  

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 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.

The Fool owns shares of and has written covered calls on Lindsay. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders whether his contrarian heart will ever be happy. 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.