Things aren't always pretty out there.

The market may have rattled off a few rallies in recent weeks, but the market will still need a positive push over these final two weeks to close out the year in the black.

Some of the publicly traded players aren't cooperating.

I recently went over some of the companies that are targeted to post lower quarterly profits when they report this week.

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



Cintas (Nasdaq: CTAS) $0.48 $0.38 Add
Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) $0.57 $0.51 Add
Paychex (Nasdaq: PAYX) $0.38 $0.37 Add
Shuffle Master (Nasdaq: SHFL) $0.17 $0.14 Add
CarMax (NYSE: KMX) $0.38 $0.36 Add
Herman Miller (Nasdaq: MLHR) $0.41 $0.29 Add
Walgreen (NYSE: WAG) $0.67 $0.62 Add

Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Cintas.

The leading provider of branded corporate uniforms was an obvious victim of the recession. Cintas posted nine consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines on the bottom line before bouncing back this year. Cintas has managed to now post earnings improvement in each of the three past quarters. It's hoping to extend the streak tomorrow.

Oracle is the enterprise software behemoth with the always colorful Larry Ellison at the helm. Oracle has been able to make timely acquisitions over the years to keep growing at a brisker pace than its organic performance. Ellison is a master at managing analyst expectations, so there shouldn't be any problem in posting year-over-year gains in net income.

Small- and medium-sized companies turn to Paychex for the payroll, work benefits, and other human resources needs. Paychex is a great way to take the pulse of corporate America.

Shuffle Master makes automatic card shufflers and other casino equipment. Gaming may not seem like much of a growth industry, but have you been to Macau? Closer to home, deficit-saddled states are easing restrictions on casino laws in order to drum up taxable gaming revenue. It's a slippery slope, but the trend clearly benefits Shuffle Master.

CarMax is cleaning up the image of greasy used car salesmen with its clean superstore showrooms and its haggle-free pricing. Drivers who can't afford new wheels find CarMax convenient, and the company also makes it easy to sell your existing car even if you don't want to buy one of theirs.

Herman Miller makes iconic office furniture. Remember the Aeron chairs that defined the dot-com bubble? That was Herman Miller. Remember the cubicle? Herman Miller invented it -- for better or worse.

Finally, we have Walgreen. Analysts are targeting a profit of $0.67 a share out of the drugstore chain when it reports Wednesday. Walgreen earned just $0.62 a share during the same quarter last year.

Drugstores should be consistent performers, selling sundries, quick convenience items, and filling regular pharmacy prescriptions. Try telling that to some of its rivals, though. Walgreen is a winner in this niche.

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.