We're two weeks into 2010, and January is off to a good start. The S&P 500 is up a little more than 2% through the first nine trading days. At this pace, the market will be up better than 50%!
Well, we know that's unlikely to happen. Things will go wrong. They always do.
The upside here is that earnings season is just around the corner. It was a strong holiday quarter, by most accounts. Companies should be posting some serious bottom-line growth.
Not so fast.
Despite the heady market gains in recent weeks, there are still plenty of companies posting lower earnings than they did a year ago. Let's go over a few of the names that are expected to go the wrong way on the bottom line next week.
Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)
Year-Ago Quarter's EPS
International Game Tech
Advanced Micro Devices
Source: Thomson Reuters.
Clearing the table
There will likely be more companies posting lower earnings next week, but these are just a few of the names that really jump out at me.
Let's start with McMoran Exploration.
Climbing energy prices and incremental acquisitions apparently aren't enough for the offshore oil and gas explorer. It posted a loss during this same quarter a year ago, and now it's projected to come back with an even wider deficit.
Goldman Sachs is the investment banking giant with a face that only an opportunistic Warren Buffett could love. Trading profits have helped beef up results on this side of the government bailout, but the pros believe that Goldman Sachs will be lucky to earn half of what it did a year earlier.
In reality, Wall Street has had a hard time figuring out where Goldman Sachs will land from quarter to quarter. Let's compare Mr. Market's projections to reality for the financial services giant over the past year.
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
The moral of the story is not to wager too heavily on the $3.78 a share that is being targeted. Then again, the chances are pretty darn high that Goldman Sachs will fall well short of the $8.20 that it surprised investors with a year ago.
Western Digital and Seagate are hard-drive makers. Have you seen the state of computing these days? Tablets, smartphones, and even MacBook Air -- the new ways that consumers are computing -- rely on flash memory. Hard drives just aren't spinning the way they used to. It's not surprising to see both companies pegged to earn roughly a third of what they posted a year earlier.
AMD knows the same pain. The PC chip maker's board reportedly booted its CEO this week, on concerns that AMD doesn't have enough of a presence in mobile. Given the state of the ever-shrinking consumer computing gadgets, it's easy to relate to the exasperation.
IGT makes slot machines, video lottery terminals, and other electronic casino gadgetry. Many casino operators are bouncing back. Gaming is a booming industry in some overseas markets. Unfortunately, IGT is likely to come up just short of last year's bottom-line showing.
Finally we have PNC. Analysts are banking on a quarterly profit of $1.38 a share out of the Pittsburgh-based banker. That may not seem too shabby, but investors were treated to $2.17 a share in net income during the previous year's fourth quarter.
Why the long face, short seller?
These seven companies have -- literally-seen better days. The market has rewarded many of these stocks with reasonable 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.
The Fool owns shares of International Game Technology and Western Digital. 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 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.