It's a cruel world out there.

The eurozone's debt problems are rippling onto the shores of the rest of the world. What if this global economic recovery isn't all that it's being played out to be?

Thankfully, it gets better. I may have singled out several companies over the weekend projected to post lower earnings this week than they did a year earlier, but 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



Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) $0.37 $0.22 Add
Jamba (Nasdaq: JMBA) ($0.07) ($0.13) Add
Focus Media (Nasdaq: FMCN) $0.27 $0.16 Add
Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) $0.93 $0.90 Add
Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL) ($0.04) ($0.24) Add
hhgregg (NYSE: HGG) $0.29 $0.25 Add
OmniVision (Nasdaq: OVTI) $0.65 $0.18 Add

Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Applied Materials.

Analysts see the chip equipment maker earnings $0.37 a share when it reports its quarterly results tomorrow, well ahead of the $0.22 a share it posted a year earlier.

Jamba's still looking at a red-inked smoothie later this afternoon, but it should be a smaller deficit than the $0.13 a share it shed during last year's freshman quarter.

Don't let the loss at the Jamba Juice parent frighten you. This remains a seasonal business, and we're heading toward Jamba's telltale summer run when cool smoothies are the ideal antidote to a hot day. Jamba's been transferring company-owned stores to franchisees and inking deals for licensed retail products. We're still far removed from the day when Jamba can just sit back and passively collect juicy royalties for year-round profitability, but we seem to be gradually getting there.

Focus Media chases eyeballs in China as one of its leading real world marketers. Its fleet of LCD monitors, digital posters, and billboards dot China's busiest areas. Business must be going pretty well if Wall Street is banking on earnings per share to jump almost 70% this week.

Medtronic makes an array of medical equipment. This may seem like a dicey business given health-care cutbacks, but Medtronic's gear is typically essential. You don't deny someone a pacemaker or a diabetic's glucose monitor.

Toll Brothers is one of the more widely followed homebuilders. It could be because of the company's quotable CEO, but more than likely the Toll watchers are here because the company's residential projects aim for a higher upper middle-class market than most of its cookie-cutter peers. Housing prices continue to fall through most of the country, so it's impressive to see Toll expected to post a much narrower loss than it did a year ago.

Consumer electronics have been a minefield over the past year or two, but hhgregg has been a rare standout. Maybe it's because the 175-unit chain devotes a large chunk of its 30,000-square-feet stores to appliances, instead of rivals that dedicate too much of their space to media that's migrating toward digital distribution.

Finally, we have OmniVision. The company makes image sensors, which is a booming business when you think about the emphasis on smartphones and tablets on outdoing one another when it comes to gadget cameras. You didn't think that Flip's death was indicative of our waning shutterbug ways, did you? We're sharing more digital snapshots than ever these days. Don't believe me? Get thee to Facebook.

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.