It's not a perfect world out there for investors, but things may be starting to get better.

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

My Watchlist

Alcoa (NYSE:AA)








Monsanto (NYSE:MON)








Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)




Source: Thomson Reuters.

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

The aluminum giant is expected to bounce back tomorrow after posting a small quarterly deficit a year earlier. There is a problematic trend here. Analysts were banking on a profit of $0.08 a share out of Alcoa a month ago, and that was whittled down to $0.07 a share just last week. Now the consensus estimate stands at $0.06 a share. Wall Street's also bracing for a 6% decline in revenue.

The good news offsetting these negative trends is that Alcoa has managed to exceed bottom-line forecasts in each of its three previous quarters. Perhaps more important for our purposes, none of the 18 major analysts tracking Alcoa sees a quarterly loss this time.

IHS also reports on Tuesday. The global source of information and analytics offered up guidance last month.

At the time it was targeting $1.515 billion to $1.535 billion in revenue for the entire fiscal year ending in November. Its adjusted earnings per share target is between $3.77 a share and $3.89 a share. IHS has already earned $2.73 a share through the first nine months of fiscal 2012, so the guidance implies that profitability will clock in between $1.04 a share and $1.16 a share. Analysts have perched themselves toward the high end of the range, at $1.11 a share. That may be dangerous since IHS has come up short relative to Wall Street forecasts in two of the past three quarters, but even the low end of last month's guidance calls for improvement over the $0.99 a share it served up during last year's fourth quarter.

Monsanto is a controversial name, especially for fans of organic produce that don't appreciate what Monsanto's agribusiness products do to boost crop yields. However, the appeal to farmers and other harvesters is real. The pros see profitability growing nicely on an 8% pop in revenue. Monsanto did come up short in its most recent quarterly profit, but it landed ahead of the market's profit targets in the seven previous periods.

AZZ reports on Wednesday. The maker of specialty electrical products and provider of galvanizing services is expected to post a quarterly profit of $0.57 a share, blowing past the $0.40 a share it rang up a year earlier. It's not just a matter of improving margins here. AZZ is also scorching on the top line. Analysts are banking on a 31% surge in revenue during the quarter.

Finally, we have Wells Fargo closing out the week with the first of the major banking quarterly reports of this earnings season. Wells Fargo has held up better than most of the traditional banking behemoths, and analysts are holding out for a 22% increase in net income per share out of the banker.

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.

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.