The second trading week of the year is just getting started, and it's understandable if some investors grow nervous. We're rapidly approaching the start of earnings season, where companies start to paint a truer picture of the holiday quarter.

I'm not talking about retailers, necessarily. Many merchants run on fiscal years that end this month, so those reports won't begin trickling in until mid-February. However, most consumer-facing public companies have already wrapped up their December quarters. Expect those reports soon.

Over the weekend, I had no problem listing several companies projected to post lower quarterly earnings this week than they did a year ago.

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.

Company

Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS

Audiovox (Nasdaq: VOXX) $0.26 $0.11
Commerce Bancshares (Nasdaq: CBSH) $0.66 $0.60
Webster Financial (NYSE: WBS) $0.20 ($0.76)
Alcoa (NYSE: AA) $0.19 $0.01
Infosys (Nasdaq: INFY) $0.66 $0.59
Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) $0.53 $0.40
Shuffle Master (Nasdaq: SHFL) $0.13 $0.12

Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Audiovox.

As a jack-of-all-trades in consumer electronics, Audiovox does a little bit of everything. Car speakers, satellite radios, mobile multimedia systems, and even digital picture frames fill Audiovox's arsenal of gadgetry. When Audiovox reports later today, Wall Street expects its net income to more than double.

Commerce Bancshares and Webster Financial are regional bankers. They don't have tellers handing out rolls of quarters in the same states. Webster's presence is in the Northeast. Commerce has a larger footprint, but its emphasis is in the middle of the country, given its Kansas City roots.

Commerce and Webster do have two things in common, though. They're both on this list because they're projected to deliver heartier profits than they did during the same quarter a year earlier. However, both companies are also expected to post dips on the top line.

Am I the only one who remembers the old "Alcoa can't wait" jingle from the 1970s? Well, investors won't have to wait until tomorrow for the aluminum juggernaut's results. The pros expect substantial bottom-line improvement when Alcoa reports tonight.

Infosys is rolling these days, and even analysts' expectations for $0.66 a share may be too conservative for the Bangalore-based provider of IT outsourcing. It's hard to take Wall Street seriously, given how off the pros have been over the past year.

Time Frame

EPS est.

Actual

Q3 2010 $0.52 $0.59
Q4 2010 $0.58 $0.61
Q1 2011 $0.56 $0.57
Q2 2011 $0.61 $0.65

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Investors had better enjoy chip titan Intel's quarterly improvement. Analysts aren't as sold on its prospects in the year ahead. They actually see Intel earning less in 2011 than the $1.99 a share that Wall Street expects for all of 2010.

Finally, we have Shuffle Master. The maker of automatic playing card shufflers and other gaming equipment stands to benefit as more states loosen up their gambling restrictions. We also can't ignore the booming casino market abroad, particularly in Asia.

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. They are worthy of the gains that the market rally has bestowed upon them over the past year.

I wouldn't be uncomfortable 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 buying or selling stocks these days? Share your strategy in the comment box below.

The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. 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.