If the economy's getting better, why did we just suffer our fifth consecutive week of a lower close on the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

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



FuelCell Energy (Nasdaq: FCEL) ($0.12) ($0.20) Add
LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK) $0.86 $0.06 Add
Oxford Industries (NYSE: OXM) $1.00 $0.52 Add
Ulta Salon (Nasdaq: ULTA) $0.31 $0.23 Add
CIENA (Nasdaq: CIEN) ($0.10) ($0.13) Add
Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) $0.67 $0.65 Add
lululemon athletica (Nasdaq: LULU) $0.38 $0.27 Add

Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with FuelCell Energy. The maker of eco-friendly power plants reports its quarterly results tonight, followed by its analyst conference call tomorrow morning. Wall Street sees a narrower deficit on a 68% spike in revenue. FuelCell Energy delighted investors with a huge order last week, so the future should be even more charged up than its past.

LDK Solar is eyeing monster bottom-line improvement when it reports tomorrow. With Germany announcing plans to wean itself off nuclear power, solar energy is as hot as it's ever been.

Oxford is the apparel company behind its namesake golf apparel, tropical Tommy Bahama shirts, and other fashionable clothing lines. It's also an unlikely restaurateur given the 13 Tommy Bahama eateries it operates adjacent to some of its stores.

Ulta Salon runs a 394-unit chain of stores stocking roughly 21,000 beauty care products. Vanity is always fashionable, and Wall Street is targeting earnings growth of 35% in tomorrow's quarterly report.

CIENA makes networking gear. These haven't been the best of times for CIENA. You have to go all the way back to 2008 to find the last time that it cranked out a profitable quarter. However, after posting wider deficits in its three previous quarters, the market is now banking on a narrower loss with tomorrow's fiscal second-quarter results.

Piedmont distributes natural gas to more than a million utility customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Income investors flock to Piedmont for its growing payouts. Piedmont has boosted its dividend rate in each of the past 33 years. The best way to achieve that kind of consistency is to make sure that its bottom line also makes small yet definite steps in the right direction.  

There are few retailers hotter these days than lululemon. The rapidly expanding chain of high-end athletic apparel for women has delivered several quarters of stellar same-store sales growth. Earnings growth has naturally followed.

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.

The Motley Fool owns shares of lululemon athletica and Oxford Industries. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of lululemon athletica and Piedmont Natural Gas. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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.