The economy isn't doing so hot. The country gained just 18,000 non-farm payroll jobs in June.
FarmVille jobs, on the other hand ...
The unemployment rate now stands at 9.2%, inching higher over the past three months. If this is a recovery, I'd hate to see a recession.
Despite a recent bounce in equity prices, there are still companies going the wrong way, 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 some 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
Source: Thomson Reuters.
Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Alcoa.
When the aluminum giant is humming along nicely, it's usually a good sign for the economy. However, booming demand overseas doesn't necessarily translate into a buoyant economy closer to home. Wall Street expects Alcoa's profitability to more than double when it reports this afternoon.
Lodging behemoth Marriott is growing despite wearing its high-end timeshare and real estate businesses like an albatross around its neck. That will change by year's end, as Marriott will be spinning off its Marriott Vacations Worldwide subsidiary.
Shaking off Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, and Grand Residences by Marriott into a stand-alone entity will make the company a pure play on its global hotel business.
Yum! Brands is the fast-food master behind Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell. Even if growth prospects may seem dim domestically, KFC is a big hit in China.
Google is the world's largest search engine, and by default the top dog when it comes to global paid search advertising. It's in a good groove these days, with its Android smartphone operating system gaining market share and its Google+ social networking initiative winning rave initial reviews.
Just two months ago, Citigroup was trading in the single digits. Today? It's perched in the $40s. What's that? There was a 1-for-10 reverse stock split in May? Oh. That explains the chunky share price and the lofty profit targets. Well, at least the "too big to fail" banker is growing on the bottom line.
Genuine Parts distributes automotive replacement parts. This may seem to be an all-weather business, since older cars still need to be maintained during economic lulls.
Finally, we have Mattel. The country's largest toy maker had its stumbles with toy recalls a few years ago, but the company's reputation -- and its fundamentals -- are on the mend. Earning $0.16 a share may not seem like much, but it's a good way to head into the telltale second half of the year, when holiday sales keep all toy makers busy.
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 Google and Yum! Brands. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Yum! Brands and Google. 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.