The economy still isn't running on all cylinders. In fact, it may have even lost a wheel or two along the way.
Friday's blood-curdling news detailing that 95,000 jobs that were lost in September isn't going to chase away the pessimism.
I'm guilty of egging on the boo birds. 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
Source: Thomson Reuters.
Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Google.
The world's leading search engine -- and top dog in online advertising as a direct result of its query-filling prowess -- managed to grow when its smaller rivals faltered during the global recession. It's only natural for Big G to continue moving higher now that advertisers are flocking back into cyberspace. Google's growth overseas has also helped it overcome domestic lulls.
Intel and AMD are the two companies fighting to the death to get inside your computer. Intel is the market leader, but a spunky AMD continues to keep markups honest and the innovative spirit alive. I can't be the only one that believes that PC microprocessors would be inferior -- and more expensive -- if Intel and AMD weren't always out trying to top each other's latest offerings.
AMD's track record on profitability is dubious. It dips into the red far more often than it slides into the black. However, this should be its fourth consecutive quarter of positive net income. Yes, Intel and AMD can battle it out and they can still both walk away as profitable winners.
Apollo Group runs the University of Phoenix. As the bellwether for web-based post-secondary education, Apollo is championing the cause of providing college degrees at a steep discount to conventional universities. The convenience of home-based programs is also an easy sell, campus thrills notwithstanding. Things got hairy for Apollo and its peers this summer, when a grim report surfaced, detailing the low student loan repayment rates from online enrollees. This is an issue that is likely to be raised during Wednesday's conference call, since it's the first time that Apollo will be able to address the issue before its quarterly analyst collective.
Winnebago is the popular maker of recreational vehicles. Despite pesky gasoline prices and folks having to put off their plans for early retirement to take an RV trek across the country, Winnebago is expected to reverse last year's quarterly deficit with a small profit.
Gannett is another surprising name on this list. The newspaper publisher behind USA Today is presumably feeling the painful fade of print dailies. Gannett even eliminated 35 jobs from its USA Today newsroom, part of a larger round of layoffs originally announced in August.
Finally, we have General Electric. The conglomerate that at one time commanded the country's largest market cap is slowly getting its act together. Last year's cruel dividend cut and share price detour into the single digits is history. After posting seven consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines, GE got back on the growth track three months ago. The pros expect a repeat performance, even if it's mercifully pitted against last year's depressed performance.
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 reports due out this week are you looking forward to? Share your enthusiasm in the comment box below.
Apollo Group, Google, and Intel are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of Google and Intel. 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 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. The Fool has a disclosure policy.