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

The market's coming off another week of encouraging economic news as housing and employment data point to a continuing recovery.

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

Dollar General (NYSE:DG)



FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL)



Quiksilver (NYSE: ZQK)



Bio-Reference Labs (NASDAQ:BRLI.DL)






Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Dollar General. This may seem like a good time to be operating a discount retailer, but that's not as easy as it seems. We saw the country's two largest discount department store operators post disappointing financials on negative comps.

Dollar General should fare substantially better. Analysts see reasonable top-line growth, and the trend suggests that the $0.71 a share that Wall Street is forecasting here may be too low. Dollar General has clocked in ahead of the pros every single quarter over the past year. None of the reports were blowouts. The beats were all in the 5% to 8% range. However, it's still a welcome sight as we head into tomorrow's report.

FuelCell Energy is the one company on this list that's expected to post a deficit, but the important thing here is that it should be a narrower loss than the one it posted a year earlier. The rub here is that FuelCell has posted larger losses than what was targeted in three of the past four quarters.

The good news for investors is that the maker of eco-friendly power plants is growing quickly on the top line. Wall Street's eyeing a 58% surge in revenue.

Quiksilver is a mall retailer that young extreme sports fans know well. It sells swim trunks, skating apparel, and other trendy outdoor wear. Reports out of retailers so far this earnings season have been mixed. The economy may be improving, but shoppers aren't cracking open their wallets at all chains. However, the pros see a small profit here reversing a year-ago loss.

Bio-Reference Laboratories is the country's fourth-largest provider of clinical testing and related services for physicians, hospitals, and other health care institutions. Despite its emphasis in the Northeast, where Hurricane Sandy hit hard, Bio-Reference was able to post double-digit growth in its previous quarter as it provides clinical testing lab work for nearly 2 million patients. The path for continuing growth this time around appears reasonably clear.

Finally, we have Conn's checking in. Consumer electronics proved to be a disappointing field when two of Conn's peers reported earlier this week, but the prognosis is far better for Conn's. It's not just about the $0.55 a share projected profit after the retailer generated net income of only $0.35 a share a year earlier. The pros are banking on net sales soaring 23% during the 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 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.