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5 Reasons Not to Worry This Week

By Rick Munarriz - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:57AM

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These five companies are moving in the right direction on the bottom line.

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

So many things could've gone wrong on Wall Street this past quarter, but the market exchanges still managed to post healthy returns fueled by the S&P 500's impressive 10% return. Despite the sequester and the mess in Europe that boiled over in Cyprus, investors remain confident.

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

Global Payments (GPN 0.67%)



Oxford Industries (OXM -0.48%)



Monsanto (MON)



ConAgra (CAG -1.82%)



Conn's (CONN -2.88%)



Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Global Payments. The provider of electronic transaction processing solutions came through with a strong fiscal second quarter three months ago, jacking up its bottom-line guidance for all of fiscal 2013 along the way. Global Payments also now sees revenue for the fiscal year ending in May climbing at a respectable 7% to 9% rate. The pros are targeting earnings of $0.89 a share when it reports tomorrow.

Oxford Industries is the company behind the tropical yet stylish Tommy Bahama shirts and its namesake Oxford Golf apparel. Other product lines in Oxford's bag include Lilly Pulitzer, Ben Sherman, and Billy London. Fashions can be fickle, but Oxford's clothing lines generally appeal to middle-aged and elderly shoppers who don't mind sticking with what works.

Oxford had an impressive streak of seven consecutive quarters of beating Wall Street's bottom-line estimates end in its most recent quarter, so investors will want to see on which side of the $0.70 a share that analysts are forecasting Oxford ultimately lands tomorrow.

Monsanto is a giant among agricultural chemicals makers, and that makes it a target for activist groups that object to bioengineered seeds. Monsanto and crop harvesters swear by its products that help improve yields, but naysayers wonder about the ramifications of swaying from the natural order of things.

Investors are welcome to take sides on the debate, but numbers don't lie. Analysts see revenue and earnings improving in the low double digits when Monsanto steps up on Wednesday.

ConAgra is the food giant behind many popular brands. From Chef Boyardee cans of pasta to Healthy Choice frozen entrees, from Orville Redenbacher bags of microwavable popcorn to Slim Jim sticks of beef jerky, ConAgra gets around in the grocery store aisle.

The pros see a profit of $0.56 a share out of ConAgra, and the trend here would point to a beat. ConAgra has landed ahead of Wall Street's profit projections every single time over the past year.

Finally, we have Conn's hitting the register. Consumer electronics isn't an easy sell these days. Just ask the ghost of Circuit City.

Conn's has been able to succeed by emphasizing big-ticket consumer electronics, furniture, appliances, and even lawn care equipment that isn't easy or cheap for an online retailer to fulfill. There are challenges, naturally, but this strategy has generally played out better than that of the larger superstore operators that try to woo repeat traffic by stocking the latest CDs, DVDs, and software in an era in which digital distribution is making trips to the store obsolete.

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.

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Stocks Mentioned

Monsanto Company Stock Quote
Monsanto Company
Conn's, Inc. Stock Quote
Conn's, Inc.
$12.79 (-2.88%) $0.38
Conagra Brands, Inc. Stock Quote
Conagra Brands, Inc.
$31.74 (-1.82%) $0.59
Oxford Industries, Inc. Stock Quote
Oxford Industries, Inc.
$83.27 (-0.48%) $0.40
Global Payments Inc. Stock Quote
Global Payments Inc.
$120.47 (0.67%) $0.80

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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