Things aren't always pretty out there.
It was a flattish year for the market as a whole in 2011, but why assume things will get any better here in 2012? 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
Source: Thomson Reuters.
Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Mosaic.
Agriculture remains a booming global industry. Mosaic's specialties in phosphate and potash are ultimately about fertilizer, helping farmers grow their crops more efficiently. It really isn't a surprise to see Mosaic's profitability improving since it has posted significant year-over-year gains on the bottom line in each of the seven previous quarters.
Family Dollar runs the popular chain of discount stores. With a nationwide presence of more than 7,100 stores in 45 states, Family Dollar provides basic staples at everyday low prices. Not everyone is growing simply by stocking cheap merchandise. This hasn't been a no-brainer recessionary growth spot. However, this particular discounter is holding up well.
Monsanto helps farmers, but not in the same way Mosaic does. Monsanto is a huge supplier of seeds. As an agrichemical giant, Monsanto also makes products that help kill off unwanted weeds and treat seeds to grow more efficiently.
Worthington Industries is a metals processor. This is an economically sensitive industry, naturally, and it's not as if business is booming. Analysts see Worthington's revenue climbing by less than 2% when it reports on Thursday. In other words, this is a story about improving margins even under a flattish scenario.
Commercial Metals processes scrap metal. The company took a hit recently when it chose to discontinue its steel operations in Croatia, but that simply opened the door for the always opportunistic Carl Icahn to storm the scene with a hostile buyout offer. We'll see how that plays out, but at least Commercial Metals is bouncing back on the bottom line for now.
PriceSmart runs a growing chain of warehouse clubs through Latin America. This has emerged as a smart way to play the emerging economies south of the equator, and earnings growth is clearly playing along.
Finally, we have MSC Industrial. The direct marketer of industrial goods has landed ahead of Wall Street's profit targets every quarter over the past year. This naturally bodes well for MSC to earn even more than the impressive $0.93 a share that analysts are projecting.
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.