Several major market indices hit fresh milestones last week, but what if consumers aren't ready to play along?
Consumer confidence is slipping for the first time since August, according to Friday's preliminary report out of the University of Michigan. Is the recent wave of encouraging job reports becoming undone in light of the problematic spike in gas prices?
I recently went over some of the companies that are expected 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 Focus Media.
Few companies in China can match Focus Media as a marketer, with its fleet of elevator posters, ad-broadcasting flat-screen monitors, and billboards. As the economy of the world's most populous nation continues to improve -- and even this year's adjusted 7.5% growth-rate target would make most countries envious -- advertisers will spend more to reach out to the financially empowered masses.
Focus Media has bounced back since taking a beating last year on fraud allegations from famous short-seller Muddy Waters. The company held up against knocks that it was overstating the size of its advertising network and other bearish critiques. Analysts see revenue growing 41% when it reports tonight.
Cintas is a comforting name to see on this list. The leader in providing fresh branded uniforms to companies is moving in the right direction, and that's probably a fair indicator that companies are hiring again.
Oracle is the global leader in enterprise software. It's not all organic. Everyone knows that CEO Larry Ellison has a voracious appetite for accretive acquisitions. However, another thing that Oracle is known for is that it routinely lands ahead of Wall Street's profit targets.
Outside of a rare miss last time out, Ellison's company usually finds a way to land ahead of the prognosticators on the bottom line. So even if it may seem disappointing to see earnings per share expected to grow from $0.54 to just $0.56, history would wager on Oracle earning slightly more than that.
GameStop is reporting on Thursday. Selling video games and hardware has been an industry in decline for most of the past three years, but GameStop has helped weather the storm with its higher-margin resale business and its loyalty shopper program. Analysts see flat net sales out of the video game retailer, but they do see a healthy uptick in profitability.
Finally there's Nike. The athletic footwear company has evolved over the years. Sure, it's still selling a ton of shoes. However, it has gone on to make a big splash in branded apparel and now even mobile health.
The Nike+ FuelBand hit the market last month. The $149 bracelet measures movement and calories burned through a proprietary metric called Nike Fuel. They seem to be flying off the shelves as quickly as Nike can stock them, though it will be a long time before they move the needle for a company as big as Nike. Then again, if the FuelBand encourages the sale of more running shoes and workout shirts, maybe it will be a factor sooner rather than later.
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 Oracle and GameStop. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Nike and Cintas. Motley Fool newsletter services have also recommended creating a diagonal call position in Nike and writing covered calls on GameStop. 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.