Major market indexes may be near multiyear highs after another quarter of robust capital appreciation, but there are some problematic spots all over the world.

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



Check Point Software (NASDAQ:CHKP)








Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG)




Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG)




General Electric (NYSE:GE)




Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Check Point Software.

The firewall provider ran into some skepticism last week. Needham analyst Scot Zeller downgraded the stock from buy to hold, concerned about the growing competitive landscape in Check Point's security niche. Zeller isn't necessarily worried about the company's near-term prospects, though he did lower his profit forecast for all of 2012. Doubts raised after his field checks relate more to the competitive pressure that Check Point will likely face next year and beyond.

Investors will want to pay attention to any potential clues about Check Point's future when it reports on Wednesday.

Cree makes energy-efficient LED fixtures, blue and green LED chips, and other RF devices. Analysts see a profit of $0.26 a share when it reports, marginally ahead of the $0.25 a share it posted a year earlier. It may not seem like much in terms of improvement, but have you seen where Cree's been lately?

Cree was a market darling a few years ago, but it has stumbled since early last year. Cree has posted six consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines in profitability. If the pros are right, that streak ends tomorrow.

Intuitive Surgical doesn't have an unsavory streak to end this week. The company behind the da Vinci robotic-arm surgical system has been an all-weather grower. Sure, hospitals are tightening their belts. However, the merits of Intuitive Surgical's flagship system make it too valuable to cut out of an operating budget. Patients recover faster, and surgeons suffer less fatigue.

If Intuitive Surgical is doing well now, just imagine how things will be when health care spending is growing again.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has the unwelcome distinction of being the latest bearish target of billionaire hedge fund manager David Einhorn. He even compared Chipotle to Taco Bell earlier this month. What nerve!

However, Taco Bell has been improving its menu offerings, teaming up with reality-show chef Lorena Garcia to create the "Cantina Bell" menu that introduced more upscale flavors to the otherwise cheap Taco Bell menu this summer.

Well, we know Taco Bell is coming off a strong quarter. Parent company Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) just reported a 7% spike in comps at domestic Taco Bell locations for its latest quarter. However, does that mean Chipotle will feel the pain? Thursday's report will be very telling.

Finally, we have GE. General Electric has a knack for reporting on Friday -- historically the quietest trading day of the week in terms of earnings news. GE has been able to overcome most of its hiccups during the recession, and now the pros are targeting bottom-line improvement of 16% in its latest quarter.

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 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.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.