New shoes and old knees will play bit parts in the week that lies ahead. Let's take a closer look.

If you wanted to be like Mike, you had to do it with Nike (NYSE:NKE) Air Jordans. Yet athletic careers aren't eternal. Perhaps that's why Nike then went on to shell out $90 million to bring on LeBron James as a celebrity endorser. No, brand marketing never comes cheap.

Nike also has the added pressure of kicking off the latest week of earnings reports. OK, so maybe the company isn't exactly breaking out in a sweat. Back in March, the company posted a 36% surge in fiscal third-quarter profits, with sales inching higher. More importantly for those of us investing now is that at the time, the company was reporting a 9.6% uptick in future orders worldwide. That is likely to come into play in Monday's numbers. The top line should continue to move higher. As for everything else? We'll see what Nike has to say about that.

For years, investors in Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL) have been schooling the market. The provider of post-secondary education and workforce training has thrived as the country has realized that it could use a little retooling. Apollo's shares have doubled over the past three years, and the gains get even more spectacular the further out you go.

But if you pull up a one-year chart, you will notice that the stock is actually trading lower today than it was last summer. That brings up the obvious question -- has Apollo landed? The company's ability to generate free cash flow has weakened through the first two fiscal quarters of 2005. As a result, the market hasn't been exactly thrilled to see a respectable 32% advance in conventional profitability over those six months. That's also why the educational specialist is going to have to show its math when it delivers its third-quarter homework on Tuesday. Investors won't settle for anything less than a passing grade.

Even if you don't own shares of software giant Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), you should still tune in for its midweek earnings report. That's because as Oracle goes, so goes the economy. No, it's not a perfect gauge, but if you go by companies loading up on Oracle's flagship database and enterprise wares, you'd think that the corporate outlook is pretty upbeat. And you would probably be right. Having completed its $10 billion acquisition of PeopleSoft, Oracle may also be an intriguing watch if only to find out what the company is hungry for next.

Probably another good reason to tune in is that Larry Ellison is one of the more colorful CEOs out there. He's brash. He doesn't mince words. While Oracle isn't the biggest software company on the planet -- that honor belongs to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) -- Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer can't turn the words quite the way Ellison can. Yes, the market is more than just entertainment, but it's never a bad time to celebrate its true personalities.

Wounded knee? Maybe Biomet (NASDAQ:BMET) can help. The orthopedics player has been helping the medical field for years with its hip and knee products. Though Biomet is fourth in its field, behind rivals such as Zimmer (NYSE:ZMH) and Stryker (NYSE:SYK), the company has been drawing a fair amount of praise lately.

From innovations in its core products to dabbling in new hot areas like artificial spinal discs and ceramic hip replacements, Biomet may be ready to grow the bottom line at a quicker pace than the already impressive 15% clip that it has achieved over the past decade. Yes, the company reports earnings on Thursday. Let's see whether Biomet can step up to the growth challenge.

Friday is not a trading holiday, but it will probably feel that way as traders head home to kick off the extended Fourth of July weekend. No notable companies will be talking about their financials, and that means no financial fireworks -- just the real fireworks being set off outside.

Want to learn more about the companies waiting to report earnings this week? Check out:

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thought that hip replacement surgery was the process of trying to become cooler than you used to be. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.