George Costanza couldn't avoid the double dip, but perhaps we will.

Between the nation's trade deficit narrowing and fewer folks applying for unemployment benefits last week, maybe the economy really will get better.

Unfortunately, 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




Kroger (NYSE: KR)



Apogee (Nasdaq: APOG)



H.B. Fuller (NYSE: FUL)



Lannett (NYSE: LCI)



PMFG (Nasdaq: PMFG)



Source: Yahoo! 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.

K12 is a technology-based education provider. Investors shouldn't read too much into the deficit. The company has historically posted a loss during this final quarter of its fiscal year, only to more than make it up in the following three periods when school's in session.

K12 even has momentum going into next Monday's report. It reported better-than-expected results a quarter ago, boosting its near-term guidance. There's also a pretty compelling story here, similar to what Apollo Group's (Nasdaq: APOL) University of Phoenix is doing at the postgraduate level with its dot-com efficiency, as K12's Web-based curriculum helps lick physical overcrowding at schools at taxpayer-efficient prices. Unfortunately, though, a wider loss is still a wider loss.

Kroger runs one of the country's largest supermarket chains. Grocery stores were supposed to be all-weather winners. Good times or bad, folks still need to fill cupboards. Some of the brands being sold may take hits during economic lulls, but the grocers usually coast along because they're the ones behind the cheaper store brands that shoppers trade down to.

Glass products manufacturer Apogee was rolling in the dough a year ago, but a springtime report warned of red ink during the first half of this fiscal year. At the time, Apogee figured that strength in its optical business would help deliver a profit through all of fiscal 2011, but analysts now see red shards of glass for the year.

H.B. Fuller makes adhesives and other chemical products, but it's in a sticky situation now. The pros see earnings clocking in marginally below where they were a year ago. It was in a better place a quarter ago, when revenue and adjusted earnings were climbing higher.

"H.B. Fuller has not achieved this level of growth in a very long time," its CEO noted at the time.

Well, that was fun while it lasted -- though we have to be fair and point out that Wall Street expects H.B. Fuller's revenue to climb 11% during the period, and that's the growth that its CEO was referring to.

Lannett cranks out generic pharmaceuticals. This is usually a steady business. Waiting for Big Pharma blockbusters to go off patent creates a steady flow of opportunities for the generics. Well, Lannett is looking to call in sick next week, with earnings falling by 20%.

PMFG is the parent company of Peerless Manufacturing, making high-efficiency separation filtration equipment and environmental systems that help reduce air pollution. Clean energy may be a sexy industry, but PMFG's bottom line isn't exactly cleaning up -- or sexy -- these days.

Why the long face, short-seller?
These six 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.

Apollo Group is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. K12 is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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 wonders if 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.