Car manufacturers may have had a soft May, but things are looking up elsewhere. New home construction was actually up last month. Layoffs are also starting to ease, as claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week.

It's not perfect.

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



Bed Bath & Beyond (Nasdaq: BBBY) $0.63 $0.52 Add
CarMax (NYSE: KMX) $0.47 $0.44 Add
Walgreen (NYSE: WAG) $0.62 $0.51 Add
FedEx (NYSE: FDX) $1.72 $1.33 Add
Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) $0.22 $0.18 Add
Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) $0.71 $0.60 Add
H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) $2.15 $2.11 Add

Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Bed Bath & Beyond.

Selling housewares may seem like a steady business, though you'd be surprised how long a raggedy towel can hold up when money's tight for a replacement. Thankfully, Bed Bath & Beyond is holding up well. You have to go back two years to find the last time that the chain posted a year-over-year quarterly drop on the bottom line.

CarMax is the company that cleaned up the sleazy image of a used car salesman. CarMax's haggle-free showrooms with massive inventory have caught on with frugal auto buyers.

It will be interesting to see how CarMax fares given the volatility in the new car market. Shortly after the Japanese earthquake, automakers weren't sure if they would have enough car supplies to meet sales goals in the second half of the year. After a sloppy May, consumer demand has become the new problem. Used cars don't move in lockstep with the new-car people, but we'll have to wait and see to learn how CarMax sees it.

Walgreen is the steady drugstore chain that's been beefing up its dividend in recent years. It has met or exceeded Wall Street's estimates over the past three quarters, although it did come up short in the two previous periods.

Improvement at FedEx feels good on so many different levels. Is corporate America perking back up, hence an uptick in business documents being whisked around? Are consumers doing so well that they're rushing online orders? FedEx may be one of the better proxies for the state of the economy. It Wall Street's targets are accurate, we're holding up pretty well.

Red Hat has crafted a nice living by building enterprise solutions on top of open source Linux. The end result is that Red Hat arms companies with cheap yet stable software.

Oracle is more of a traditional enterprise software company, and CEO Larry Ellison's eye for acquisitions means that Oracle is always up to go shopping. To Ellison's credit, Oracle is also great at managing expectations. The enterprise behemoth has met or topped analyst profit projections for years without fail.

Finally, we have H&R Block. The company has survived dabbling in mortgage originations, the demise of controversial tax refund anticipation loans, and the trend of consumers filling out their own tax returns online for free. This is it. This is H&R Block's defining quarter that includes the mid-April filing deadline. H&R Block may not be expected to post a dramatically higher profit than it did a year earlier, but it is taking baby steps in the right direction.

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 Oracle and FedEx. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of FedEx and Bed Bath & Beyond. 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.