September got off to a blazing start, but we still have plenty of trading days to go before the month can sleep.

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, above and beyond Friday's surprisingly upbeat employment report. 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

Men's Wearhouse (NYSE: MW)



Navistar International (NYSE: NAV)



Pep Boys (NYSE: PBY)



Shuffle Master (Nasdaq: SHFL)



National Semiconductor (NYSE: NSM)



Aceto (Nasdaq: ACET)



lululemon athletica (Nasdaq: LULU)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Men's Wearhouse.

The CEO may "guarantee it" when it comes to customers looking good, but can the same promise hold up with shareholders? These may be lean times for the upscale chain's tuxedo rentals, but it's probably selling a fair amount of value-priced suits for those running from one job interview to the next. The healthy balance sheet in a heavily leveraged retail sector is another bonus.

Navistar International keeps on trucking. The truck manufacturer with a little financial sizzle on the side has been rolling along lately. It surprised analysts three months ago, posting a healthy profit when Wall Street was braced for a small deficit. The pros won't be caught off guard this time around. They already see a healthy profit -- $1.28 a share -- to reverse last year's chunky deficit.

Another company minding the road, but for different reasons, is Pep Boys. When it's not busy changing your tires or tuning up your transmission, the retailer of auto supplies has been one of the few beneficiaries of the economic downturn. If drivers need to hold on to their cars longer, a little more maintenance is required. You may also want to check your rear tire on the passenger side. It's as bald as an eagle. While you're there, you should see if you can figure out which one is Manny, Moe, and Jack.

Shuffle Master makes automatic card shufflers and other casino equipment. You didn't know that we were in a casino boom? Well, this is a global company. There are gargantuan cruise ships leaving the yard with equally enormous floating casinos. There are also many opportunities overseas, particularly in Asia.

National Semiconductor is a master of analyst integrated circuits. Things are going so well that National Semiconductor gave its quarterly payouts a 25% boost this summer. How does one of the highest-yielding chip stocks keep its dividend buoyant? Higher earnings usually do the trick -- and that's exactly what Wall Street is targeting for Thursday.

Aceto distributes chemically derived pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and crop-protecting products. The company may not be a household name, but it commands the highest five-star rating in Motley Fool CAPS. Shares have been trading in the single digits since January of last year, but a strong quarterly report could help it nudge higher. Aceto had come up short on profit expectations in its most recent quarters but landed well ahead of its target last time out.

Finally, we have lululemon striking a pose on the yoga mat. The retailer of high-end athletic wear for women may have had its meditative pauses during the darkest recessionary stretches, but it's really flexing now. In its latest quarter, net revenue soared 69%, on the back of a head-turning 35% spike in same-store sales. The upbeat momentum should continue with this week's quarterly report.

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. 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.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz prefers to look at the bright side of life -- and strife. 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. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.