Things are starting to look up in 2012.
The market cheered Friday's fresh workforce news. Unemployment -- at 8.3% -- is at a three-year low. The economy added a better-than-expected 243,000 new jobs last month.
There are still some rough patches out there. 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
Buffalo Wild Wings
Whole Foods Market
Source: Thomson Reuters.
Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Buffalo Wild Wings.
There were reportedly 1.25 billion chicken wings consumed on Super Bowl Sunday yesterday, and that's certainly vindicating when it comes to Buffalo Wild Wings' signature dish. The fast-growing chain of family-friendly sports bars hit a fresh high on Friday, leaving the company with plenty to live up to in tomorrow's report.
Buffalo Wild Wings has typically been up to the task. The beer-tapping eatery has beaten Wall Street's profit targets in six of the past seven quarters.
Friday's employment report is welcome news for Cisco. If companies are hiring and unemployment is dropping, it's probably a good sign that companies are investing in their IT infrastructure. Cisco is the global leader in networking equipment, and it's been beaten around during the darkest recessionary stretches.
Whole Foods Market is the leading grocery chain specializing in organic edibles. The upscale grocer has been battling the "Whole Paycheck" nickname for years. It's true. A shopping list checked off at Whole Foods will likely be a little more expensive than a traditional supermarket trek; however, the difference has been blown out of proportion. You're supposed to pay up for quality.
After a few quarters of cascading comps, Whole Foods has come through with several quarters of positive store-level sales.
Activision Blizzard is the country's largest video game company. Between record-breaking annual installments in its Call of Duty franchise and the consistent devotion of World of Warcraft gamers, Activision Blizzard has been able to post consistent growth.
There are certainly some difficult headwinds facing the gaming industry. Sales have been generally sluggish for three years. Despite the record-breaking initial sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 back in November, analysts actually see revenue declining by 13.5% during the holiday quarter. The good news here is that those same pros see Activision Blizzard's bottom line inching higher.
Finally, we have Select Comfort. The maker of air-chambered mattresses -- Sleep Number beds -- has been one of the market's biggest winners since bottoming out in late 2008 at $0.19 a share. The stock closed last week at $27.04, making this a 142-bagger. That's a lot of serious air!
Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
Investors in these five 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 five stocks wouldn't have it any other way.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard, Cisco Systems, Whole Foods Market, and Buffalo Wild Wings. The Fool owns shares of and has written calls on Activision Blizzard. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cisco Systems, Whole Foods Market, Activision Blizzard, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in Activision Blizzard and writing covered calls in Buffalo Wild Wings. 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 calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.