If the economy's getting better, why have there been 44 -- and counting -- bank failures this year?

It's not just some weak-kneed banks struggling. I had no problem over the weekend bringing up several companies that are projected to post lower quarterly earnings this week than they did a year ago.

Thankfully, they're the exceptions and not the rule. Let's go over seven publicly-traded companies that are expected to stand tall this week by posting year-over-year improvement on the bottom line.


Latest Quarter EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS



Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) $0.18 ($0.19) Add
Daktronics (Nasdaq: DAKT) $0.05 ($0.12) Add
Dollar General (NYSE: DG) $0.50 $0.42 Add
Diamond Foods (Nasdaq: DMND) $0.48 $0.30 Add
Joy Global (Nasdaq: JOYG) $1.35 $1.15 Add
SAIC (NYSE: SAI) $0.33 $0.32 Add
United Natural Foods (Nasdaq: UNFI) $0.48 $0.45 Add

Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Lionsgate. The studio behind hit cable shows including Mad Men and Weeds is cashing in on the digital upside of its meaty catalog. It also doesn't hurt that it can spin box office gold at the corner multiplex with its low-budget Tyler Perry flicks. Its latest cinematic feat will be reversing last year's quarterly deficit with a healthy profit.

Analysts better hope that Daktronics investors aren't keeping score. Wall Street has underestimated the scoreboard maker's earnings power in each of the three previous quarters. Even if the pros finally catch up to Daktronics tomorrow, it, too, will have reversed a year ago loss with a nice round profit.

Dollar General operates a huge chain of thrift stores. This one should come as a surprise. We may all love bargains, but way too many discounters are coming up short lately. Sam Walton's juggernaut has produced eight straight quarters of lower sales at the same-store level, and smaller markdown masters are following suit.

Diamond Foods made waves last month when it agreed to fork over $2.35 billion for Pringles. It's a move that will beef up the salty snack specialist that's already making a dent in nuts, popcorn, and bagged potato chips.

Joy Global is a leading provider of mining equipment. As you can probably imagine, buoyant commodity prices have awakened the appetite of resource extractors. Wall Street is looking for earnings to climb 17% higher in Thursday's report.

SAIC barely makes the cut. Mr. Market's eyeing net income of $0.33 a share out of the military contractor, barely ahead of the $0.32 a share it earned a year ago. Don't be surprised if SAIC earns a little more than that. SAIC has topped guesstimates by at least 17% in each of its three most recent quarters.

Finally, we have United Natural Foods on the menu. It's really not a surprise to see the distributor of more than 60,000 largely natural or organic products for supermarkets doing well these days. Organic grocers have bounced back nicely since the recession.

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 a buyer or a seller of stocks these days? Share your strategy in the comment box below.