September and October were so good for the stock market that I'm almost dreading November.
The S&P 500 bounced back from its early-summer doldrums to climb 9% in September, and another 4% last month. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fared even better, with stocks roaring ahead by 12% and 6% over the past two months, respectively.
This would normally seem to be a good time to be long the market, but I was still able to bring up several companies projected to post lower year-over-year quarterly earnings this week.
Thankfully, they're the exceptions, not the rule. Let's go over seven publicly-traded companies expected to post year-over-year improvement on the bottom line this week.
Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)
Year-Ago Quarter's EPS
Source: Thomson Reuters.
Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with MasterCard. By now, no one confuses credit card marketers with the actual issuers. MasterCard and its plastic pals receive a piece of the transactional action, but they don't have to take on the credit risk that issuing banks assume. This may come in handy at a time when many consumers are reneging on their debt, but it doesn't mean that the coast is clear for MasterCard. If issuers authorize fewer cards with lower credit limits -- and if shoppers resist using those cards at the register -- MasterCard could suffer. Its presence on this list shows that analysts believe that dire scenario ain't gonna happen.
Whole Foods' comps fell during the darkest recessionary stretches, but consumers have once more embraced the merits of premium-priced organic groceries and prepared meals.
Few survivors of the dot-com bubble have continued to post quarterly losses like drugstore.com over the years. The e-tail pioneer has managed to squeeze out an occasional gain, however, and this week should deliver drugstore.com's first quarterly profit in more than a year.
Activision Blizzard remains the leading video game company. It has been able to offset the weakness of its Guitar Hero franchise with the runaway success of Call of Duty and the healthy subscription revenue trickling down from World of Warcraft. Its biggest rival is expected to post a quarterly deficit this week, so we can't read too much into the state of the industry if Activision Blizzard improves earnings -- not that its shareholders will complain.
JDS Uniphase suffered an analyst downgrade last week, after two of its rivals posted a bleak near-term outlook for the optical equipment niche. That thumbs-down may be a gutsy move for analyst RBC Capital, considering that Wall Street's consensus calls for profitability at JDS Uniphase to quadruple in Thursday's report -- but analysts don't make those calls lightly. JDS Uniphase's outlook will be just as important as its actual trailing metrics when it reports.
American Tower erects communication towers, which it then leases out to wireless carriers and radio and television broadcasters. Given the way that the leading carriers keep bragging about their coverage maps or coping with shoddy reception, American Tower probably isn't hurting from a lack of demand.
Finally, most solar energy stocks have delivered blowout results in their recent reports. ReneSola should follow suit, reversing a year-ago loss with a massive profit.
Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
Investors in these seven stocks have a right to be excited. They are all improving their financial situations, and they all deserve their market-rally-fueled gains over the past year.
I'd be comfortable owning any of these companies. They're doing the right thing, regardless of Mr. Market's mood swings. The expectations may be high, but these seven stocks wouldn't have it any other way.
Are you a buyer or a seller of stocks these days? Share your strategy in the comments box below.
American Tower is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Activision Blizzard and Whole Foods Market are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended a synthetic long position on Activision Blizzard, of which The Fool owns shares. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
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.