Civil unrest in the Middle East and tsunami-fueling earthquakes in Asia make the world a pretty volatile place to live these days.
It's not all that different on the stock exchanges.
I singled out seven companies 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 ZAGG.
ZAGG was one of the biggest losers the day the iPad 2 was officially introduced. ZAGG is a maker of third-party covers and screen protectors for iPads, iPhones, and iPods. Its stock lost nearly a quarter of its value that day, since the iPad 2 debut was paired up with the launch of the $39 proprietary Smart Cover that serves as both an iPad stand and a magnetic screen protector.
ZAGG bounced back from that knee-jerk reaction, and this afternoon's quarterly report should validate ZAGG's uphill climb after toiling away for ages as a speculative penny stock.
Universal Display is still in the red, but it's less reddish. Deficits aren't a surprise for the patent-rich OLED display specialist. Universal Display has been posting quarterly losses for years. The key here is that the deficits are narrowing, and some analysts see Universal Display finally turning the corner toward profitability later this year.
China Fire & Security Group has had its hiccups over the years. Short-seller credibility attacks and missing Wall Street profit targets in three of the past four quarters have kept shares in check, but now the company is attracting acquisitive attention from what it calls a "leading global private equity firm." We'll see how this plays out, but the private equity appeal is more than fair. China Fire shares are trading at just six times this year's projected profitability.
Herman Miller makes office furniture. It's the one credited -- for better or worse -- with creating the cubicle. I've always approached corporate furnishings as a great proxy for the corporate economy. On that front, it's encouraging to see the pros expecting quarterly earnings to nearly double at Herman Miller.
LDK Solar is shining bright these days. The maker of wafers used in solar energy panels has blown past Wall Street expectations in each of its three previous quarters. This quarter is shaping up to be another blowout, with analysts targeting a profit of $0.81 a share after LDK Solar clocked in with net income of merely $0.03 a share a year ago.
Athletic footwear and apparel juggernaut Nike was able to grow through most of the recession, so it's not really a surprise to see the Swoosh jogging in the right direction now.
Finally, we have Winnebago on the move. The RV maker has been stumping Wall Street lately, in a good way. RV's quarterly earnings have clocked in at least 122% higher than analyst estimates over the past year. Higher gasoline prices may pinch sales in the future, but Winnebago's rolling along nicely now.
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.
Universal Display is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Nike is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. 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.