Friday's grim employment data aren't the only things to be worried about these days. I singled out seven stocks over the weekend that are projected to post lower earnings this week than they did a year earlier. 

Thankfully, that's just one side of the story. 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 (Nasdaq: CTRP)



Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN)



Cree (Nasdaq: CREE)



JA Solar (Nasdaq: JASO)






Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO)






Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. is China's leading online travel portal. It is coming off a strong first quarter, where revenue and earnings soared 46% and 57%, respectively. It targeted only 30% to 35% top-line growth for the quarter that it will be discussing tonight, but Ctrip is a company that routinely underestimates its true potential.

Nuance isn't a household name, but odds are you have cursed its existence from your household. The company provides voice recognition software used by automated telephone call centers. You know the prompts. "Say customer service to be placed on hold for the next 38 minutes." OK, Nuance also has many other less annoying applications.

Nuance was able to shine through some of the darkest recessionary stretches, largely because it provides companies with cost-effective platforms that don't need to take bathroom breaks or punch out for lunch.

Cree's LED lighting has been in heavy demand lately, as illuminated folks wean themselves off inefficient incandescent light bulbs. Those who don't see the light yet will probably come around tomorrow, when Cree's profitability is expected to nearly triple from last year's showing.

Speaking of light, JA Solar and LDK Solar are naturally solar energy plays. Despite the obvious eco-friendly nature of sun-blessed power, its cost effectiveness relative to more popular energy has translated into lumpy results for many of the industry's leading players. JA and LDK are perfect examples. Both companies rang up chunky deficits a year ago, but both are expected to be squarely profitable this time around.

Cisco is probably the most encouraging name to see on this list. I've never owned a stake in the networking giant, but it's an excellent bellwether. If Cisco's business is improving, it's a fair indicator that IT budgets are widening as corporate America beefs up its networking infrastructure.

The pros are banking on a healthy 35% uptick in Cisco's net income, but this isn't just the handiwork of cost-cutting. That would render the corporate America proxy thesis moot. Wall Street also sees Cisco's revenue climbing 27% for the quarter -- and that's the real gauge of the tech titan's success as a bellwether.

Finally, we have NVIDIA. The graphics card specialist spooked investors two weeks ago when it warned that revenue would clock in lower than it had originally expected. Competition has been fierce at both ends of the graphics chips markets. Analysts also went ahead and marked down NVIDIA's profit target -- from $0.20 a share to $0.11 a share -- but that is still well above the $0.07 a share it posted a year ago.

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 here is that these companies are expected to post improving results. The optimism is already baked into their share prices. It 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.