If the economy's getting better why did we just suffer our sixth 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
Pier 1 Imports
China Finance Online
Source: Thomson Reuters.
Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Majesco Entertainment.
The company behind the Cooking Mama video games isn't as expensive as its trailing earnings multiple may suggest. Fellow Fool Sean Williams took Majesco's valuation to task last week, pointing out a sky-high P/E of 70, but that's the sum of three quarters of small deficits followed by a blowout holiday quarter.
Strength in its Zumba Fitness gaming workout title and a strong push into social gaming are paying off. By reversing a year-ago loss with a chunky profit tonight, Majesco's P/E will fall closer to 20 in a few hours. Go out a few more quarters, and Majesco is trading for just 12 times this fiscal year's projected profitability and a little more than 10 times next year's target.
Finisar was one of last year's biggest winners, more than tripling in 2010. It has gone on to shed more than a third of its value so far in 2011, as glum guidance out of the optical networking industry has spooked investors. Well, at least Finisar's bottom line is still moving in the right direction.
FactSet Research's data are routinely chewed on by financial services professionals. Income investors also don't mind gnawing on its ever-growing dividends. That leaves growth investors like me tempted by its appetizing earnings growth.
Kroger is one of the country's largest grocery store chains. Supermarkets seem like steady businesses, but the past few years have been pretty rocky for many of its leading players. Escalating overhead, labor struggles, and consumers that are never too happy with rising food prices have left their marks.
Shares of Pier 1 Imports were trading for as little as a dime two years ago. The sweet-smelling home furnishings retailer is now trading in the double digits. No one is talking about bankruptcy for Pier 1 anymore. The chain is popular and profitable again, with Wall Street banking on Pier 1's net income to double this quarter.
Analysts see a huge bottom-line bounce for pork producer Smithfield in its quarterly report on Thursday. It may seem overly ambitious, but Smithfield has actually blown past Wall Street's estimates in its two previous quarters.
Finally, we have China Finance Online, one of the few profitable companies out there that are actually trading for less than the cash on their balance sheets. The knock on China Finance Online is that providing premium investor research in China has become a cutthroat market. Analysts see a sharp spike in profitability this quarter, despite a slight dip in revenue.
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.
Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of China Finance Online and FactSet Research Systems. 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. The Fool has a disclosure policy.