Investors may be comforted to see the unemployment rate drop last week, but that's not the only thing going down.

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 

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

Take-Two Interactive (Nasdaq: TTWO)



Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN)



Select Comfort (Nasdaq: SCSS)



Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI)



Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG)



Mannkind (Nasdaq: MNKD)



Rackspace (NYSE: RAX)



Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Take-Two.

The video game publisher behind the Grand Theft Auto series has been able to develop new franchises. Its BioShock and Mafia properties recently birthed successful sequels. The video game industry itself is struggling through two years of uninspiring sales, but Take-Two has been bouncing back with sleeper hits in recent quarters. The turnaround story should continue with tomorrow's quarterly report.

Nuance is the company that may frustrate callers with its voice-activated voice prompts, but the company saves its clients money by allowing them to save on staffing as calls are routed to the desired party. Analysts see earnings climbing 7% to $0.31 a share in its latest quarter. This may not seem like much, but you don't want Nuance to reroute your call into the bear's den, do you?

Select Comfort is the company behind the Sleep Number beds. I can vouch for them. I've owned one of the company's air-chambered mattresses for years. I was also a shareholder, though I sadly sold too soon. Select Comfort has been bouncing back since a recessionary slowdown rocked the shares into the penny stock camp.

Whole Foods Market is the country's leading organic grocer. Bottom-line growth isn't a surprise here. Comps have been inching higher for several quarters now, as shoppers who may have been watching their pennies before are returning to Whole Foods' premium edibles and popular prepared meals.

Chipotle is the burrito roller that has bucked the trend of quick-service Mexican chains that have come and gone. Chipotle's "food with integrity" and lightning-quick assembly lines are big draws, explaining why the chain's comps grew even during the recession.

MannKind was unkind to shareholders last month, when the FDA failed to approve its inhalable form of insulin called Afrezza. It was the second time that needle-wary diabetics were let down by the FDA in rejecting the treatment. Will the third time be the charm?

As a fledgling biotech, MannKind's fate relies largely on Afrezza. The upshot here is that Wall Street sees a narrower quarterly deficit on Thursday. Time means money for young drug companies.

Finally, we have Rackspace. The provider of web-hosting services has been growing nicely as companies and entrepreneurs flock to the Internet. Rackspace is also a popular provider of hosting for cloud computing applications, though traditional hosting remains its bread-and-butter business.

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 report due out this week are you looking forward to? Share your enthusiasm in the comment box below.